Is Sarah Palin the best McCain can do?

A 3 1/2-year member of the US Senate and 8-year State Senate alum who has shown high character, sound judgment, and selflessness is not as qualified to be President as a former beauty queen whose political experience includes being mayor of a town of 6,500 and governor of the third-least-populous state in the union.

At least that's what the McCain campaign wants you to think.

Meanwhile, here are some other things to think about regarding the Republican candidate for VP:

Here's a compendium of problems and controversies surrounding Palin.

Palin was nearly recalled as mayor of Wasilla.

McCain's pick has been criticized by Paul Begala...

For months, the McCainiacs have said they will run on his judgment and experience. In his first presidential decision, John McCain has shown that he is willing to endanger his country, potentially leaving it in the hands of someone who simply has no business being a heartbeat away from the most powerful, complicated, difficult job in human history.
...and plenty of conservatives:

It doesn’t seem as though McCain knows Palin well. Do we have much reason to think they would work well together?
She is younger and less experienced than the first-term Illinois senator, and brings an ethical shadow to the ticket. Just 20 months ago, she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of 6,500 where the biggest issue is controlling growth and the biggest annual worry is whether there will be enough snow for the Iditarod dog-mushing race.
She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?

And here's the Daily Show's perspective:

But really, folks, what does it say about the Republican Party today when John McCain thinks Sarah Palin is the best person to be one heartbeat away from the Presidency?



Another fascinating day at the DNC

Obama officially nominated for President of the United States

Joe Biden accepting the nomination to be Vice President of the United States

Bill Clinton

John Kerry

DailyKos's nyceve on pride


DNC Day 2 recap

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm

Keynote Address by Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner

Senator Hillary Clinton

Today is the day Obama and Biden will officially be nominated by the Democratic Party for the offices of President and Vice President of the United States. Biden will accept his nomination tonight. More here.


Democratic National Convention Day 1 Roundup

Ted and Caroline Kennedy

Michelle Obama, part 1

Michelle Obama, part 2

Here are just a few of the blogs that have bloggers in Denver for the Convention:


Obama/Biden 2008!

I'll have more thoughts on Biden soon, but for now, enjoy this video - posted to YouTube in January!


McCain can't tell how many houses he owns

Daily Kos has more:

Is McCain's memory really that poor, and if so, what does it say about his ability to be president? Or is the number of houses he has such an unimportant question to him that it's not worth remembering? That he has a house everywhere he goes, so why bother singling them out to remember?

My question is, what does it say about the politics in this country when the current president's party is about to nominate someone who doesn't even know how many houses he owns?


Bits of Tid: August 18, 2008

  • The Obama banner on the right links to the Michigan for Obama MySpace page. I am excited to inform you that I have secured an internship with Obama for America, and as part of my internship I help to manage that very Michigan for Obama page on MySpace!
  • I'm back at CMU helping to put on a freshman orientation program relating to diversity. Now through Wednesday, I am spending my evenings preparing for the program, which will run Thursday through Saturday. Many of the incoming freshmen are participating in what is called Leadership Safari, which I am glad I did my freshman year. Most residence hall students move in Thursday, and classes begin next Monday.
  • The other day at the Democratic County Convention, I seconded the motion to approve the Credentials Committee Report. Winning by one vote can make you powerful! :-)
  • I'm pushing for people to vote absentee if they need to. Keep in mind that while absentee ballots don't come out until late September, they will accept absentee ballot apps anytime until November 1 (the Saturday before the election). So there's no better time than now to apply for an absentee ballot!


My One-Vote Victory

"Take it from me - every vote counts." - Al Gore

I dare anyone to look me in the eye and tell me, with a straight face, that one single vote will affect the outcome of the election. Yes, each vote does matter - and I am living proof of that.

Last Tuesday I won my bid for re-election as a Democratic Precinct Delegate. My margin of victory? One.

What is a Precinct Delegate?

In Michigan, the Precinct Delegate is the foundation of each major party's structure. Precinct Delegates are elected by voters in the August primary election in even-numbered years, so my name appeared on the same ballot as Senator Levin and a host of other great Democrats seeking nomination for state and local offices. More often than not, however, there are more Delegate seats allotted to a precinct than there are people to run for those spots.

Though we are called Precinct Delegates, the position is listed on the ballot as 'Delegate to the County Convention.' Actually, we are credentialed to vote at three Democratic County Conventions. At the first one, which is tomorrow, we will elect delegates and alternates to the Rules, Credentials, and Platform committees for next month's Democratic State Convention (wherein we will choose our Democratic nominees for the state Board of Education, Supreme Court, and other offices on the November ballot). We will also adopt resolutions for the Platform Committee to review when drafting the platform.

This November (after the election) we Precinct Delegates will convene to elect members of the county Party Executive Committee, which will in turn elect county Party officers (Chair, Vice Chairs, etc.) for the next two years. Finally, in February we will have another State Convention to elect District and State Party officers, adopt resolutions, etc. Thus another County Convention to elect convention committee delegates/alternates and adopt resolutions.

Oh, but that's not all. I reposted this blurb from a county Democratic chair onto Michigan Liberal back in May:

The Precinct Delegate is one of the most important of any elected office. It is the active Precinct Delegate who wins elections for the Democratic Party. Precinct Delegates are elected directly by the voters of each precinct to serve as a bridge between voters and the Democratic Party. Precinct Delegates represent the Democratic Party in their neighborhoods and represent their neighborhoods and Democratic Party meetings.

Precinct Delegates:
-Help Democrats get registered to vote
-Take information on issues and candidates to the voters in their precinct
-Identify other Democrats and recruit new Party members
-Help turn out the Democratic vote on Election Day
-Keep Democratic leaders informed about the issues that concern voters

Stepping up

I was first encouraged to run for Precinct Delegate in 2006 by my friend Rob, who himself has been a Precinct Delegate in Lenawee County (not far from Detroit). I filed the paperwork 75 minutes before the deadline to run in 2006. As one of three people seeking three delegate spots I was guaranteed to win (barring a write-in campaign). Well, whaddya know, I got 53 votes en route to a landslide victory.

This year, however, was a little different. You see, our precinct was only allotted two Delegate spots. (I assume it's based on Democratic performance in the 2006 election in the precinct, and I will admit that most of my work for Dems in '06 was in Isabella County, where I attend university. I swear I'm doing a lot more this cycle - no, really, I am!)

With the same three of us running for two Delegate spots, one of us was not going to win. I didn't want to be the odd man out, especially since (a) I had been planning to introduce a couple of resolutions to the convention, and (2) few precinct delegate races are contested and it would've been embarrassing to lose a race for Precinct Delegate.

After a little bit of campaigning, the election came, and with it a couple more challenges. For one, while there were two contested Republican primaries (for Sheriff and for State House), the only competitive Democratic race was mine. In Michigan, we don't declare a party affiliation when we register to vote. So, when we vote in a primary, we may choose to vote in either party's primary, but we can't split our ticket (i.e. I couldn't vote for myself as Precinct Delegate and then cross over to vote for a moderate-ish Republican running for State Rep).

Because the area is so red, the winners of each Republican primary were practically a lock to win in November. So I was hoping to be able to vote in the Republican primary to choose the "least of three or five evils." But I wanted re-election too much not to vote for myself. After all, there's a lot that I've wanted to do with my position as Precinct Delegate that I haven't been able to do yet.

And then we voted. My parents and I all chose to vote on the Democratic side, voting for Levin and other fine Democrats running unopposed. Then we each cast one vote for Precinct Delegate (we could've voted for two, but for obvious reasons we didn't).

Which leads me to my other challenge: The ballot listed our names in alphabetical order by surname; my last name beginning with U, my name was on the bottom of the list. So to a voter who voted Democratic and had never heard of us, the temptation could've been there for some people to cast their two votes for the two candidates listed above me.

So on Wednesday. I stopped by City Hall to see how I fared in my low-key election.

The candidate listed first got 33 votes. The second candidate got 29 votes. As for myself?

Thirty votes. I won by a single vote.

Had my parents not voted for me, I would've lost. Had one of us neglected to vote, or voted Republican, or if Moms' absentee ballot hadn't arrived, it would've been a tie, resulting in a coin flip (I believe that's how they break ties).

That single-vote margin allows me to have a greater influence on the Kent County and Michigan Democratic parties. I have been working on a couple of resolutions, one of which I hope to introduce next week and the other(s) I'll introduce in February.

Each vote does matter

Snopes has debunked a popular email claiming that, among other things, one vote made English the official US language instead of German and one vote allowed Texas to be admitted to the union. Even so, Wikipedia has a list of races that were decided by small margins. Among them are a race for U.S. House that was decided by four votes and a U.S. Senate race that was decided by two! Several Congressional races in 2006 were also quite close, including Joe Courtney's 83-vote win in CT-2 in 2006.

So if you are inclined to not do your part to elect Barack Obama as our President and other Democrats to other offices down the ballot, remember that every single vote you, your relatives, your friends, and your neighbors cast - or don't cast - has the potential to change the outcome of the election.


Republicans for Obama

Former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach:

"For me, the national interest comes before party concerns, particularly internationally," said Leach, who has long been an opponent of the war in Iraq.

"We do need a new direction in American policy, and Obama has a sense of that," he said. "He recognizes that a long-term occupation of Iraq is not only expensive, it's extremely dangerous to the American interests."

Leach said he was attracted to Obama's call for a dialogue with nations such as Iran that have long been seen as U.S. adversaries.

"He also recognizes that it's preferable to speak with potential adversaries rather than simply shun them," Leach said.

Fairbanks Mayor Jim Whitaker:

“My goal is to let Republicans have a clear understanding that their right to vote should not be restricted by any party affiliation,” the borough mayor said. He said the economic and political challenges facing the state and country are broader than political parties alone can address and suggested Republicans should consider crossing party lines by focusing on the strongest candidate this year.

Obama spokesman Jeff Giertz on Monday called Whitaker the “highest-profile” Republican in the state to endorse the Democratic senator.

Whitaker, a former state lawmaker, said a comparison of Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain — neither of whom he has personally met — leads him to believe Obama has the stronger “intellectual capacity” and a greater ability to manifest it. He said his endorsement should not be viewed as one of the Democratic Party, noting that absent criminal convictions of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens or Rep. Don Young, he would be supporting their respective re-election campaigns.


A couple more Obama vids

Just when I was starting to fear that he wasn't fighting back, Barack comes out with this:

And... You've been Barack-rolled!


Bits of Tid: August 7, 2008

  • I was re-elected Precinct Delegate on Tuesday - by one vote! More on that this weekend, hopefully.
  • Neither Indiana (11 electoral votes) nor North Dakota (3) have been won by the Democratic presidential ticket since Johnson/Humphrey in 1964. Yet both are toss-up states in this election. And Obama is doing very well in McCain's home state of Arizona (10)! Add Texas (34), Georgia (15), Montana (3), and Alaska (3), and you have 79 electoral votes' worth of states that McCain can't take for granted.
  • Oh, my.
  • The DNC calls out McCain for his ties to the oil industry. Well worth visiting!
  • Eighty-nine days until the election!
  • Bad boy, bad boy, what'cha gonna do?
  • Dwight Eisenhower:
    "Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice."
    More gems from Ike here.


4 1/2 more hours to vote!

Once again, I feel powerful.

I made my first trip to my new polling place in Kentwood; I am now voting at a church instead iof a school.

I was Voter #185 in my precinct, up from being #120 around 3:30 PM in the 2006 primary. That seems odd because three of the four voting booths were in use when I giot there in 2006, but only one was being used when I got there today.

Contested races included the Republican state House and county Sheriff races, plus the Kent County Jail Millage renewal and the Kentwood Library Millage.

I voted in the Democratic primary because I am in a contested race for Precinct Delegate (one of three people running for two delegate spots - very unusual as these races are often uncontested!)

In 2006 someone gave me the 'no split ticket' talk; today there were signs in the booths saying the same.

You have until 8PM to vote!


Electoral Math for August 2

We start with the 2004 map:

<p><strong>><a href='http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/electoral-college/'>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

OBAMA DEFENSE - states Kerry won which Obama cannot take for granted

Kerry states where Obama's lead is too close for comfort: 52 electoral votes
Michigan - 17
Minnesota - 10*
New Hampshire - 4
Pennsylvania - 21

*I include Minnesota because it is the home of the Republican Convention.

Toss-up Kerry states: None

OBAMA OFFENSE - states Bush won in which Obama has a reasonable chance of winning

Bush states where Obama is leading: 21 electoral votes
Colorado - 9
Iowa - 7
New Mexico - 5

Toss-up Bush states: 93 electoral votes
Florida - 27
Indiana - 11
Missouri - 11
Montana - 3
North Dakota - 3
Nevada - 5
Ohio - 20
Virginia - 13

Bush states where McCain's lead is too close for comfort: 85 electoral votes
Alaska - 3
Arizona - 10
Georgia - 15
North Carolina - 15
South Dakota - 3
Texas - 34
West Virginia - 5

When you take away all of the states that I have listed, you see that Obama has a significant lead:
<p><strong>><a href='http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/electoral-college/'>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

Now let's pretend McCain wins all of the states in which he's leading, while Obama wins all of the states in which he's leading. Guess what? Obama wins.

<p><strong>><a href='http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/interactives/campaign08/electoral-college/'>Electoral College Prediction Map</a></strong> - Predict the winner of the general election. Use the map to experiment with winning combinations of states. Save your prediction and send it to friends.</p>

And notice that Florida, Ohio, and Virginia are gray, which means Obama could very well win this election without winning a single one of these states!

Now it's time for my caveat: This is my look at the Presidential race as of August 2, 2008. As I posted earlier this week, Dukakis once held a much bigger lead in 1988 (granted, things were different back then). We still have 94 days, two running-mate selections, two conventions, four debates, and However, the

I would hate for Obama to lose an election he is currently favored to win. Which means, again, we need people like you and me to work hard to ensure he doesn't just win, but that he wins in a landslide.


This Is Your (Precinct) Captain Speaking

I am a Democratic Neighborhood Volunteer (a.k.a. Precinct Captain) here in Kentwood, MI, and founder of the Neighborhood Leaders group on PartyBuilder. One of the things I am trying want to do this summer is to get Obama supporters and other Democrats to get involved with the Obama Campaign and the local Democratic Party.

What follows is a letter I wrote to Democrats in my hometown. Feel free to use a similar template to get in touch with people in your area.

My name is Scott Urbanowski, and I am a Neighborhood Leader for the Obama campaign and the Michigan Democratic Party here in Kentwood. I would like to share with you a few excellent ways you can get involved in this critical election season to not only help Senator Obama, but also to support our community and to get your neighbors involved in the election.

1. Online tools: Since you have internet access, please be sure to sign up for an account at my.barackobama.com. Through my.barackobama.com you can get in touch with Obama supporters who share your interests (i.e. students, Catholics, environmentalists, teachers); find out about events in the area; post comments on Obama's campaign blog; and learn about other great opportunities to get involved.

I also hope each of you takes advantage of the Neighbor to Neighbor tool. You will be given a list of undecided voters near you, along with tools to help you speak with them about supporting Senator Obama.

2. Yard signs, bumper stickers, etc.: The Obama campaign and area Democrats have an office at 1433 Wealthy (east of Eastern). The office has a lot of resources, including bumper stickers, yard signs, buttons, and information on other Democrats running in the area. So if you happen to be in that part of town, be sure to stop by, pick up some Obama gear, and ask how you can help. (They do suggest a small donation to defray the cost of these items.)

3. Hosting an event:
If you would like to host a house party or a voter-registration drive, then by all means please sign up or get in touch with Aaron at kauffman.aaron@gmail.com .

4. Library millage: Mark August 5 (this coming Tuesday) on your calendar; that is the day of the primary election for state and local offices. The Kentwood Library millage will be on the ballot, as well as the renewal of the Kent County Corrections Millage. It is very important that you take a few minutes of your time to stop by to vote next Tuesday.

5. New voting locations: As you may recall, voting locations in Kentwood have changed since the last election. Be sure you know where your new voting location is, and don't forget to remind your neighbors. Here is the list of the new locations. We don't want anyone to be confused as to where to vote!

6. First-time voters: If you haven't voted before (or have moved since your last vote), keep in mind that you will have to either:
  • Register to vote in person (at City Hall on Breton or at the Secretary of State's Office);
  • Request an absentee ballot in person at City Hall; or
  • Cast your first vote at a polling place on Election Day.
In other words, you may not simply register to vote by mail and then mail an absentee request form unless you've voted before. However, if you

I am very excited about the possibility of finally electing a President with the sound judgment we need to tackle the enormous challenges we face. Yet, as we have seen in the past several days, Obama's critics opponents will stoop as low as they can go to try to stop him. This means that it is up to people like us to reach out to our families, friends, neighbors, and coworkers and remind them of the importance of supporting Senator Obama.

Michigan is expected to be a very close state in this election, and if Obama doesn't win Michigan, it will be very hard for him to win the election. If Obama does well in Republican West Michigan, he will be in great shape to win our Great Lakes State.

Thank you for all you do to bring about this much needed change for our nation. Yes We Can!