Our American President

This past Tuesday, Barack Obama handily won re-election to hold his title as President of the United States. I must admit that going into the election on Tuesday I was confident but still nervous. Nate Silver’s pragmatic election forecasting had kept me calm and reasonable during the entire campaign but when CNN started showing red states populating the electoral college map, I must admit my stomach did summersaults.

We now know that Nate was right all along for as the night drew onward, the polls of the last few months bore out his math and Obama won state after battleground state. In fact the only one he lost was my own of North Carolina. While NC did go red this time around, the decision here was extremely close which honestly surprised me. In the end NC’s electoral votes didn’t matter as Barack won Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and yes, even Florida. I must admit I did enjoy tuning in FOX News throughout the night just to see the next four years slipping away from Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove. As Rachel Maddow pointed out this week, and as many pundits have rightfully written, Tuesday’s election results hit Team Romney, and many on the right as a complete and utter shock. For months they had deluded themselves into thinking the exit polls were wrong and that victory was the only possible result. Heck, Romney didn’t even have a concession speech ready to go. Who does that anyway? What kind of man running for the President doesn’t prepare for every eventuality? Evidently Mitt Romney, that’s who.

I face the next four years with hope and a huge sense of relief. We will not have new conservative supreme court justices. Roe v. Wade will not be overturned. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay (thank GOD), and world leaders will continue to respect our President. Obama hasn’t been a perfect President by any stretch of the imagination. There have been many issues he’s been unwilling or unable to tackle such as immigration reform and climate change. He’s also done things I’m not proud of such as the continued detaining of prisoners without due process. But in the end his pluses far outweigh his minuses. Despite the faux outrage from the right-wing elements in our country this past week, the United States is indeed on the road to recovery. We’ve not turned into a socialist state overnight and we won’t be one tomorrow. And no, Barack Obama didn’t kill the country this past Tuesday, Nov. 6th., he actually saved it. Saved it from regressing 50 years in policy and mindset. Saved it from extremist, conservative ideology that threatened to destroy a woman’s right to choose and American’s access to affordable health insurance. And in a small way, he saved this country from the rampant racism and hate that has reared its ugly head during his first term. A vote for Obama re-affirmed that he was no fluke, he was here to stay despite the efforts of the dwindling, white majority who has tried to paint him as “different from us” and “un-American”.

I’m very proud of my President and my country for making the right choice this past Tuesday. I wish I knew what the next four years will bring, but I feel confident that Barack will meet the challenges head-on and do what’s in our collective best interests. I sincerely hope he listens to the will of those who elected him and grows a spine when dealing with Republican obstructionism, thankfully there are signs of this already. Above all, I’m grateful that we’re moving forward as a country instead of backwards, making laws instead of repealing them. I wish our President good luck and God speed because unfortunately as history has demonstrated, he’s going to need it.

Stop, Obama Time!

Of all the political videos this election season, this skillful take off of MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This has to be my favorite. It’s awesome on so many levels it’s difficult to describe but I love seeing Michelle grooving and Barack crooning. It also highlights the media’s obsession with playing the “gotcha!” game with our politicians, especially the President. The fading commentary at the end is particularly cringe worthy. “There’s no taking Obama out of context!” and my personal favorite – “Obama should have known better. You don’t put the subject apart from the predicate!” Yes, he should have known better. Enjoy.

Bring It

Prior to the 2008 election, I was understandably nervous about the possible outcome. The potential of President John McCain and Vice President Sarah Palin shook me to my core and I followed the political scene very closely. I blogged about politics quite a bit, every chance I got actually and set out to do my part to try and help get Barack Obama elected. The thought of another four years of republican policies and control combined with Palin being just one step away from the Oval Office often kept me up at night. I was anxious, nervous and worried.

Looking back now, I probably shouldn’t have been so stressed. In hindsight, the country longed for a new direction, a vision to lead us away from the war in Iraq, away from torture as an official U.S. policy, and away from the leadership disasters of Katrina and a tailspinning economy. Obama stepped in at the right moment, won the nomination and then the Presidency and made history in the process. I remember wondering the night before the first presidential debate if Barack really had what it took to lead the nation. He was young and full of hope an enthusiasm, but would it be enough? Would the elder, more experienced statesman win the debate and the presidency? No, he would not.

Now, four years later my thoughts return to that election and how I felt leading up to it. Hate for this President has run deep, deeper than even I have thought possible. Almost since the day he took office, republicans have been blocking, obstructing and denigrating him and his position in the hopes of getting the upper hand this November 4th. Questions about his birth certificate still circulate in right-wing circles. Cries of socialism and a “government takeover” of healthcare have rallied the conservative base. Billionaires, backed by the Supreme Court’s mis-guided Citizen’s United decision have poured gobs of money into Karl Rove’s coffers and flooded the airwaves with negative ads all designed to convince the country that Obama hasn’t done enough to turn the economy and the country around fast enough. These last few months I’ve started to wonder, could Romney actually win this thing? I mean, Mr. Bland, Mr. RomneyCare, Mr. Also-ran Mitt Romney?

No, I don’t think so. In fact, the closer we get to election day, the more I think Barack will prove his worth with voters and handily win re-election. He now has a laundry list of accomplishments that he will be able to wield like Batman wields his utility belt. Want to talk about terrorism? He’s ended the war in Afghanistan, killed dozens of Al Qaida operatives and oh, Osama Bin Laden has shuffled off that mortal coil. Obama’s fought for the rights of gays and lesbians repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and signed laws designed to help give women equal pay for equal work. Obama’s administration saved the auto industry. Mitt didn’t even want to touch the problem with a ten-foot pole, preferring instead to let the industry go belly up, and thousands upon thousands of Michigan jobs with it.

And then there’s health care. The right sees it as their war cry. “We’ll repeal Obamacare! Socialism! Socialism!” but more and more Americans’ agree that the fundamental principals that the Affordable Care Act provides (insurance for pre-existing conditions, more of your dollars paying for care instead of overhead, etc) are good ones. Just this week Romney, in a bid for independent voters said that there are parts of Obamacare he wants to keep. This flies directly in the face of his fellow hard-line conservatives who have said they want the entire act repealed. Nothing less will do. That’s the problem with extremism, it doesn’t win elections. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, politics is rarely a black and white endeavor. It takes compromise and a willingness to walk in the other guy’s shoes in order to get things done. This simple principal has been Washington’s way since its inception, but it’s also seemingly been abandoned by the right in their bid to regain control of the White House. Indeed, no other congress has stymied the lawmaking process as much as this one has. In order to get anything done, the President has had to take some unusual measures which, predictably, has only increased right-wing cries that he’s “power hungry” and refuses to work with republicans.

I have no delusions that Barack Obama has fulfilled all his promises as President. Obama’s White House isn’t nearly as transparent as he had promised it would be. We still hold prisoners without hope of ever getting a fair trial before their peers. He was naive to pretend he could make bipartisanship a household word. Perhaps most distressingly he’s been unable to communicate effectively to the American people just why he’s done some of the things he’s done. Then I look at the other side of the coin, all that he’s accomplished despite the massive pile of dung he was handed by his predecessor, and I look forward with hope. The country is indeed in a better place today than it was when he took office. I absolutely cannot WAIT for the political debates which being October 2nd. I believe Barack will wipe the proverbial floor with Mitt and seal the deal in the process. I also think deep down inside, conservatives won’t mind because like McCain, most of them don’t like Romney anyway. I’m starting to get excited about this election, and while there is still a huge level of uncertainty, (much can happen in two months) I look across the aisle to my conservative counterparts and think – “Bring it.”

UPDATE: As if almost on cue, conservatives have started to publicly decry Romney’s anemic campaign. Like I said in the post, things are still early but it’s obvious that Romney is an also-ran for the GOP. He was really the only viable choice to contend with Obama, but he’s failed to bring the “right-wing goods” as it were and therefore the knives are showing. I have a feeling things are about to get very ugly for the republican party as they face some unpleasant truths.

Election Prediction Results

Back on October 23rd, I offered up several election predictions. Now that the most important election in recent memory is one for the books (almost), I thought I should go back and take score on how I did. When it came to predicting the election no one beat Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, but all in all I think I held my own. Be sure to check the tally at the end of the post for the final results.



Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States
This was the easiest prediction I’ve ever made. There has been little doubt in my mind since Obama locked up the nomination that he would be our next President. You can say McCain threw the Presidency away with his poor choices, but even if he hadn’t, I submit to you that the need for change was too great. Obama would have won anyway and with good cause. With his win it’s once again “cool” to be an American, and that is something many of us have not felt in a long, long time.



Obama wins at least 320 electoral votes
As of this writing, Obama has a total of 364 electoral votes to John McCain’s 163. The only state left outstanding is Missouri. Just to put these numbers in perspective, Bush won 286 electoral votes against Kerry in 2004 and only 271 against Gore in 2000.



Obama wins NC, CO, OH, IN and MS
As they say, three out of four isn’t bad. I feel particularly vindicated about North Carolina and Indiana. I thought I would go against the conventional wisdom and call Missouri for Obama, but that was just wishful thinking. On the other hand, I’ve been calling North Carolina for Obama for almost a year, and even though it was close, Obama managed to pull it out in the end. Go blue NC!



Obama wins popular vote by at least 3%.
Obama blew this one out of the water. Barack Obama won the popular vote in 2008 52.6% to John McCain’s 46.1%, a difference of a full 6.5%. The total turnout for this election was 126.5-128.5 million voters (count not final yet).



John McCain wins Florida, Georgia and Virginia
Looks like I gave John McCain way too much credit here. Obama won Florida 50.9% to McCain’s 48.4% and amazingly Obama even took Virginia by a commanding lead of over 200,000 votes. This was the first time in 44 years that Virginia voted Democratic in the Presidential election. Wow.



John McCain eeks out win in West Virginia.
I think I called this one pretty much dead on. McCain won the state but only by a margin of a little less than 90,000 votes. Early in the evening, it looked like Obama might pull WV out, but the final results went for McCain.



Liddy Dole barely defends her NC Senate seat.
I’ve never been happier to be so wrong. Hagan gave Dole a pasting in North Carolina and it showed early. I will say that I made my Dole over Hagan prediction a few days before Dole started running her “Godless” ad here in the state. The backlash from that poor decision was swift and decisive. Within a few days of the commercial running, Hagan was up 7 points over the incumbent Republican who only spent some 35 days in NC in 2005.



Pat McCrory defeats Beverly Perdue.
Ask anyone in the days before the election who you thought would be the next govenor of North Carolina and I’m willing to bet they would have answered Pat McCrory. From Brad & Britt to Ed Cone, I think it’s fair to say we all thought that McCrory had a lock. The fact that Perdue managed to pull it out I think is a function of straight-party ticket votes in NC. In North Carolina, here is the breakdown of straight-party voting: Democratic 58.86% with 1,264,076 and Republicans 40.27% 864,907. Thanks in part to Barack Obama, this was a good year to be a Democrat to be on the ballot, no ifs ands or buts.



Al Franken defeats Norm Coleman in MN.
They are still counting votes in Minnesota and Coleman’s lead is dwindling fast. State law dictates a manual recount so we won’t know the real outcome until sometime in late November or mid-December at the earliest. Unsurprisingly Norm Coleman is urging Al Franken to concede and not bother with the recount. Yeah, right. He doesn’t know Al very well does he?



Senator Ted Stevens loses in Alaska. Badly.
Remarkably, Ted Stevens managed to actually hold on and seemingly beat Begich in a tight race. I say seemingly because as of this writing, there are over 40,000 provisional and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted and Stevens may very well lose the race. No matter what happens however, my thoughts of Stevens getting his can kicked were way off. Alaskans are an unpredictable bunch, that’s for sure. And then there’s that pesky matter of Stevens being a convicted felon. Bummer dude!



Democrats pick up at least 4 Senate seats.
Correct and then some. As of this writing, Democrats have picked up a total of 6 Senate seats. Those pick ups are: Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia. At least 2 more Democratic pick ups are possible once the counting is done: Minnesota and Alaska. Democrats won’t reach their fabled filibuster-proof 60 seats, but they’ll be darned close.



Democrats pick up 32 House seats.
Way off on this one, I admit it. As of this writing the Democrats picked up a total of 20 House seats with 6 seats still undecided. That being said, the Dems padded their control of the House far more than the GOP would have liked.



Republican Michele Bachmann of MN is defeated.
Perhaps the most disappointing and surprising result of the 2008 election. Somehow anti-Obama and anti-american Michele Bachmann managed to hold onto her House seat in Minnesota’s 6th district. If anyone in this cycle deserved to be stripped of her seat, it was Michelle Bachmann. In a disgusting display to plead favor with the nation after Obama had won, she went to the media and basically said she was proud and “extremely grateful” Obama was the victor. Voters will be watching this anti-American McCarthy clone like a hawk in the months ahead.



Sarah Palin is a deciding factor in McCain loss.
This one is debatable, but I’m going to call it in my favor. Republican’s were hoping for two so-called “effects” on election day – the Bradley Effect and the Palin Effect. Neither one of them materialized. In fact, there was evidence that Sarah Palin hurt McCain badly in the voting booth. Women were unimpressed with her, and even many GOP voters decided against McCain on the sole basis of her being on the ticket. She was a pathetic pick from the get-go who only fired up the ultra-right wing of the base. When the story of this election is written, I’m confident that Palin will be one of the biggest chapters why McCain failed.



National election turnout ends up around 66%.
My initial guess was going to be in the 70% range, but I brought it down to be a bit more realistic. Even that wasn’t enough however as the voter turnout for the 2008 elections ended up being only 62.6%. Feh.



Total right – 6
Total wrong – 6
Total undecided – 3

I may end up ahead in the end, but it’s clear that Nate Silver shouldn’t come anywhere near me. Ed Glosser I am not. :-)

Take My Hand

Last night I watched our new President-Elect, Barack Obama, give his acceptance speech to a crowd of over 150,000 people gathered in Grant Park and millions more around the globe. I’ve been a strong Obama supporter from day one, but I really didn’t think I’d actually break down and cry. As Barack spoke to all of us, my mind raced and my heart slowed. I could feel the fear and anxiety that have been my constant companion for the last 20 months melt away.

Earlier in the evening I and a few friends exchanged tweets regarding just how nervous we were for Obama. When the news came that media outlets were calling the election in favor of Barack, I rejoiced but part of me didn’t believe it. The specter of loss sat next to me right up until John McCain gave his concession speech and quelled the boos of his supporters. In that moment McCain reclaimed much of what he had lost. I saw the man I had respected and admired break through the fear, uncertainty and doubt he and Palin had helped to sow. When McCain left the stage to return to his former life as an elder statesman from Arizona, it was then that I felt a wave of peace wash over me.

Like so many other Americans, I’ve been worried about Barack. Worried that harm would come to him. Worried that America wouldn’t step up and make the right choice. Worried that we would again choose the politics of fear instead of hope. All that worry had washed away as Obama took the stage in Chicago. Despite speaking from behind walls of 2 inch thick bulletproof glass, all I could see was the man. All I could hear were his words. He appealed to the “better angels of our nature” and reminded us that we have a steep climb in the days and years ahead.

Through all this I sat and listened. At the very end, after the on-stage goodbyes had finished, you could see Michelle hanging way back waiting for Barack. She was proud, but also calm. I saw myself in her and knew that her fear and anxiety had dissolved just as mine had. In this moment, she was all of us, waiting for him to take our hand. Barack walked to her and just then Michelle touched his face, gave him a kiss and they walked hand in hand into a new and hopeful future together.

That’s when I started crying.

I Voted for Barack Obama Today

I took off from work today to head to the early voting location near the Iconfactory. I arrived at the Leonard Recreation Center on Ballinger Rd. around 4pm. I went inside to find a line of about 100 people stretching from the voting room to the gymnasium, and so I took my place at the end of the line. As I settled in, I started the chronometer on my iPhone to see just how long it would take to get to the front. Although the line was long, it did seem to move right along. People were in good spirits and I saw many young and African American voters come into the gym and head to the back of the line.

While in the gym, I was able to check my tweets and email and generally stay busy playing games and surfing the web. As I got near the front of the line more and more people started to come in, presumably trying to beat the rush before 5pm. When I reached the voting room, the nice volunteers took my name, printed my voting confirmation sheet and then asked me to wait for a free machine. To my surprise, the gentleman who showed me to my station recognized me and said “I know you, you’re the “icon man!” I’m not sure if he recognized me from past years voting in Greensboro or from the Fox 8 piece that aired a few months back. Either way it was a pleasant surprise and he and I chatted for a bit before I actually set about the business of voting. He explained to me that the rec center had been processing about 900-1100 voters per day for the last week and a half.

He gave me my instructions and warned me about voting separately for the presidential candidates if I chose to do a straight ticket and then we parted ways. I was very proud to press the button that was labeled Barack Obama / Joe Biden for President and Vice President of the United States. I double, then tripled checked it was correct and then set about voting on the rest of the ballot. I skipped many of the local judges since I wasn’t familiar with them.

When I confirmed my choices and stepped out the exit, I looked at my iPhone’s chronometer and it read 38 minutes. Time had really flown by there in line and the poll workers knew their job very well so all in all I had no problems. I was pleased to see so many of my fellow North Carolinians voting early. But most of all, I was happy that for the first time in recent memory, I actually had a candidate that I was proud to cast my vote for as President. Many people in line were smiling while they waited, I could tell the mood was upbeat and positive. I think many of them were voting for Obama too.

It’s Sarah Palin’s World. John McCain is Just Living In It.

The cracks started to show several weeks ago when Palin disagreed with the McCain’s idea to pull out of Michigan. The cracks grew into fractures when it was reported that the campaign spent some $150,000 of GOP donor money on clothes and makeup treatments for Palin and her family so they could “look good” during the run up to the election. Accusations flew, and some within the McCain camp started leaking nasty things about Sarah to the press. “She’s gone rogue” said one advisor. Then this week came the infamous “whack job” comment. Now from ABC news comes the icing on the chilly cake that is the Palin/McCain campaign. Sarah’s ready for 2012!

“Gov. Sarah Palin suggested that if the Republican ticket is defeated on Tuesday she expects to be a player in the next election four years from now, saying “I’m not doing this for naught.”

In an interview with ABC News’ Elizabeth Vargas, the Republican vice-presidential nominee was asked about 2012, whether she was discouraged by the daily attacks on the campaign trail, and would instead pack it in and return to her home state of Alaska.

“I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we’ve taken, that would bring this whole & I’m not doing this for naught,” Palin said.”

It seems that someone has a taste for their new found, conservative popularity. It would be a shame for all that stumping to go to waste if and when McCain loses. So Sarah seems to be hedging her bets for the next go around four years from now. The fact that she’s talking about 2012 six days before the 2008 election is nothing less than stunning. If I was John McCain, I’d be positively livid, but all things being equal it serves him right. This is what McCain gets when he listens to the likes of mr-thinks-he-knows-everything-but-really-knows-nothing Bill Kristol. Palin is turning out to be the single best thing Kristol’s ever done for the left in his long and illustrious career of being completely and utterly wrong. You betcha!

My Election Predictions

With 11 days left until the 2008 General Election, I thought now would be a good time to get my predictions out. I usually hesitate to do this kind of thing so I don’t end up jinxing anything, but the older I get the more I realize just how superstitious such an attitude is. The only way I can personally effect the outcome of this election is with my single ballot, and so I’ve decided to take the plunge and get my picks out there now. Some of these may be no brainers but at least I’ll be on record so I can see how I did after all is said and done. In no particular order they are:

• Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States. I predict He’ll end up with at least 320 electoral votes.

• Obama will win the contested states of North Carolina, Colorado, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

• Obama will win the popular vote by at least 3%.

• John McCain will win Florida, Georgia and Virginia.

• John McCain will win West Virginia, but I think it will be much closer than polls indicate.

• Liddy Dole will defend her seat here in NC, but just barely.

• Pat McCrory will defeat Beverly Perdue for NC Governor.

• Al Franken will beat Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

• Senator Ted Stevens will lose in Alaska. Badly.

• Democrats will pick up a total of 4 seats in the Senate.

• Democrats will pick up a total of 32 seats in the House of Representatives, one of which will be the idiotic Republican Michele Bachmann of MN.

• When all is said and done, the VP choice of Sarah Palin by John McCain will be the overwhelming reason why McCain loses. I do think she’ll attempt to run again in 2012, we haven’t seen the last of her unfortunately.

• National election turnout will end up around 66%.

So what happens if I’m wrong about Obama winning? Will I move to Canada or Europe? Will I spiral into a deep depression and curl up into a ball for months? I might be angry for a while but I’ll live. This country survived eight years of George W. Bush, and it can survive at least 4 of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

In my heart of hearts, I firmly believe we are on the cusp of something historic. Millions of people will be casting their vote for the very first African American for President of the United States. Barack is a good man who has the temperament, wisdom and values to lead this awesome country. Will he make mistakes? Undoubtedly. Does he love his country? Without question. I have faith that he and Joe Biden will do what’s best for the American people to keep us safe, get our economy on the right path and do what they can to bring the red and the blue together once again. We’re ready to start healing and we’ve gotta lot of work to do. It all starts on November 4th, 2008.

UPDATE: An insightful post over at The Anonymous Liberal seems to echo my thoughts about Palin as the soon-to-be scapegoat for McCain’s upcoming defeat – “If McCain loses, the GOP will quickly descend into recriminations mode. Many conservatives who have been holding back thus far will unload their frustrations about Palin.” That about sums that up. He’s not as convinced about Palin’s chances in 2012. Only time can tell.

Dole’s Swan Song?

The election is still three weeks away, but Kay Hagan has taken a 15 point deficit and turned it into a 3-6 point lead in her race for Liddy Dole’s Senate seat. Her core message of Dole ineffectiveness combined with perfectly targeted poltical commercials, have completely destroyed Dole’s once commanding lead. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, North Carolina is poised to spring several blue-tinted surprises on the country come November 4th.

Seeing Red

I love North Carolina, but sometimes living here can be frustrating. Today, on my three mile round trip to grab lunch at Wendy’s, I saw no less than 6 yard signs for McCain / Palin and not one for Barack Obama. This isn’t surprising considering I live in what my wife and I affectionately call, “the boonies”. McCain / Palin and even Bush support runs as high here as ever, which is remarkable considering around 80% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. To make matters worse, the homes that displayed these signs were, shall we say, not well off. One appeared to be a single bedroom home no larger than 1,000 square feet, and another was straight out of The Grapes of Wrath.

Logically, these McCain supporters would benefit more from an Obama presidency than from a McCain administration. Obama’s tax cuts on middle class Americans would seem to be right down rural North Carolina’s alley. Obama wants to stop shipping jobs overseas and give consideration to small businesses that strengthen our local economies, not weaken them. But it seems that folks around these parts vote more on their so-called “values” instead of the issues and policies that should concern them most. Strange when you consider that lately, even John McCain’s values have been anything but honorable. I’ve been driving around town with my Obama ’08 bumper magnet for weeks, but it may be time to finally upgrade to an Obama yard sign. I can’t let my neighbors have all the fun.

UPDATE: Maybe I just need to move to Charlotte. Check out the huge crowd that came to see Obama speak today. Somehow I just don’t see McCain / Palin drawing that kind of crowd, even in crimson North Carolina.