NC’s Silver Lining

I have to say that when I went to bed last night I was feeling pretty darned depressed about what transpired here in North Carolina with Amendment 1. I just don’t understand how people can treat their fellow Americans with contempt just because of whom they love. I firmly believe the state has no business interfering in our lives in this way, and the passing of A1 with such an overwhelming majority (even if they were confused about its implications) was quite heartbreaking.

But then today the President finally finishes “evolving” his position and comes out in favor of gay marriage. Suddenly things just don’t seem as bad. I know his stated position doesn’t change anything for the thousands of lgbt couples in NC and around the country, but what Barack did today is symbolic and it does indeed matter.

I was very proud of the President when he was elected. He’s strayed on some important issues, bent his promises on others, but in his heart, I believe him to be an honest and good man. Today he re-affirmed my faith in him, for that, and for lifting the specter of Amendment 1′s passing, I thank him.

Thinking Critically Pt 2

Back in March I wrote about a helpful series of TechNYou videos that outlined how to think critically when making arguments. I recently came across another resource in that same vein that outlines all the various types of logical fallacies in one handy and convenient place. YourLogicalFallacyis.com is great because it lets you refer to the various types of fallacies quickly and easily. You can even download a poster of the site’s content as a PDF, print it and hang it on your wall as an ode to logic.

These resources have been invaluable to me as I try to wade my way through discriminatory arguments filled with logical fallacies concerning North Carolina’s upcoming vote on Amendment 1. Next Tuesday, May 8th, NC voters will decide if the state has the ability to seriously curtail the civil rights of same-sex couples in what is unfortunately promising to be a close decision. If approved, the constitutional provision would read:

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

The proposed Amendment is unnecessary since NC law already doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage as such, but right-wing Christian conservatives felt it wasn’t enough and proposed stronger wording in the form of Amendment 1. If passed, these couples would be barred from the same legal rights that heterosexual couples currently enjoy like health care benefits, end of life decisions and more. The President opposes the measure, and so do I.

Local writer and blogger, Ed Cone has been a strong opponent of Amendment 1 since it first came on the scene and his blog has been a great place for NC natives to discuss and debate the issues at hand. It’s also been the political equivalent of a petri dish for logical fallacies like straw man arguments, slippery slopes and unfortunately ad hominem attacks. As I transition from a young man to a more seasoned one, I find resources like YourLogicalFallacyis.com invaluable to help me keep my cool and make calm, rational arguments. Check it out and always remember to fight the good fight.

Teabagistan is Born

The Tea Party took decisive, measured steps today toward becoming a full-fledged domestic terrorist group. Some of its members faxed death threats to congressmen, other vandalized offices. An investigation was launched into the cutting of a gas line of the brother of another congressman and meanwhile, Greensboro’s conservative bloggers were all deadly silent on the topic. I wonder why that is.

The Tea Party has been filled with extremists from the day it was born, but now, egged on by Sarah Palin, and suffering a devastating loss at the hands of Obama for health care reform, they’ve decided to “double down on the crazy”. What’s worse, members of the U.S. Senate like John McCain and North Carolina’s very own Richard Burr are encouraging them with their infantile obstructionism to prevent the business of government. Are these representatives men or children? Are they so obsessed with exacting retribution for the health care loss that they are willing to put national security at risk? Seriously?

This is what the right-wing in this country has become. A gang of unprincipled, dishonorable thugs. They are starting down the path of violence and domestic terror, and are being supported by the actions of some of this country’s most (previously) distinguished elected officials. This must end now before it’s too late. A storm is on the horizon, and unless cooler heads prevail and the course is corrected, we’ll all go down with the ship. Call Senator Burr’s office and tell him to grow the hell up. Send him a tweet and demand that he get back to work and stop throwing a temper tantrum.

Time Warner’s Predatory Pricing

Like many communities across the country, Greensboro is attempting to lure internet giant Google to the area to lay the foundation for their super-fast broadband service. City officials have begun to mobilize and there is even a Facebook group that has cropped up where citizens can show their support for the project. I missed the following video when it first was posted, but thanks to a comment posting by Jim Caserta at Ed Cone’s blog, it was brought to my attention.

The town of Wilson, NC has become famous in these parts for launching their own, privately held high-speed fiber network. They did this despite enormous pressure from Time Warner Cable. The network in Wilson is also noteworthy because it has demonstrated what Time Warner is willing to do in order to put such locally owned high-speed networks out of business. Catharine Rice gave a presentation recently that outlines the kinds of price slashing TWC is willing endure in order to hold onto business, even while customers in nearby Raleigh have seen their rates rise from 5-50%. We can’t see the data she’s presenting in this clip, but it’s not necessary, the facts speak for themselves.

Time Warner cable has had a monopoly in North Carolina for far too long and I firmly believe that Google’s entry into the region would serve all of us well. I wasn’t able to make it to the initial community meeting to discuss ideas on how to lure Google to the Triad, but I damn will make the next one. I’m tired of paying ever-increasing cable rates for inferior broadband service. I can’t record HD shows in my Time Warner DVR because half the time they’re not available when I tune them in. The price breaks the people of Wilson are getting are almost obscene compared to what we pay here in Greensboro and it’s high time we let them know. I’ve had enough.

Greensboro Apple Store Update

Yep, it’s still there and it’s still being worked on. The only visible difference on the facade of the future home of the Greensboro Apple Store is the corporate logo and URL that’s been added in the past week. My friends Anthony, Louie and David managed to sneak a peek inside when nobody was looking and reported that the Genius Bar logo is on the wall, and the interior is coming along. They said it seemed “big”, but I’m dubious since there’s no displays, shelves, etc yet.

At any rate, if the word on the street is true, hopefully sometime in February we’ll have a new place to go and buy shiny new Apple hardware in Greensboro. All of us at the Iconfactory can hardly wait. You can be sure we’ll be right there in the front of the line when the store opens. If you want to see the latest pictures of the store, head over to my Flickr page for some pictures that no one but Apple junkies would find thrilling.

UPDATE: A little bird, no not that one, told me that the Greensboro Apple store should be done and open by Valentine’s Day. Keeping my finger’s crossed!

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. :-)

It’s Really Happening…

All the votes are not in yet, but it does seem as if Barack Obama is on the verge of winning crimson red North Carolina. I’ve been saying this for over a year, but few believed it could be true. Will NC end up going blue? We’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out, but things are looking up. Exciting!

NC ‘Straight Ticket’ Votes Not Counted for President

If you reside in North Carolina and are getting ready to vote in the 2008 elections, then you need to be aware of a potential problem that is giving both poll workers and voters alike, headaches. Due to an obscure law passed back in 1967, when you vote a so-called “straight ticket” (pressing the button on the electronic voting machine for all Democrat or all Republican), no vote is recorded for President of the United States or judges.

In order for your vote for President to count, you will have to manually select the candidate of your choice in addition to the straight ticket choice. A Daily Kos diary of a poll worker in North Carolina has outlined the problem and the worker personally saw at least 200 votes that were meant for one candidate not counted because of the confusion. Spread the word about this NC voting quirk if you can, the more people that sound the alert, the better.

Hat tip to David Miller for this post.

Obama Visits North Carolina. Again.

Fresh off his St. Louis, Missouri rally where over 100,000 supporters showed up, Barack Obama once again visited North Carolina. This time Barack headed to Fayetteville and after his scheduled stop decided to head for a local diner to meet some folks and grab some food. Politico reports Obama’s visit to the diner was met with some angry shouts from some McCain supporters of “Socalist!”. One woman called him a “closet Muslim”.

Despite these jeers, Obama made the rounds in the diner and attempted to shake the hands of the supporters, answer their questions and quell their fears. The pool of reporters said that Obama could have chosen a predominately black diner just down the street, but instead chose the diner frequented by white Republicans as if to meet resistance head on.

There’s been a great deal of talk about Obama’s “character” from the McCain camp lately, but I think it speaks volumes that he has the strength of character to “enter the lion’s den” and answer tough questions from voters face to face. Not bad from a candidate that some local bloggers said would be abandoning North Carolina early in the race. Just another conservative prediction that hasn’t panned out the way they hoped. Something tells me this won’t be the last one.

UPDATE: Police say that while that rally was going on, someone slashed the tires on at least 30 parked cars of Obama’s supporters. I guess lashing out with cries of “Socialist!” weren’t enough for McCain fans, who had to resort to vandalism to vent their frustrations with Obama.

UPDATE II: For those of you keeping track at home, the Fayetteville stop was Obama’s sixth visit to North Carolina since the primaries. It may come as no surprise then that the NYT reports that Obama is basically tied with McCain here, something that, at this late stage in the race, the paper calls “unfathomable”. Indeed.

Becoming A Statistic

Since my wife and I have privacy blocking on our home phone, I usually don’t answer unknown calls after dinner time. I would have ignored tonight’s phone call too if it hadn’t been for the fact that the Red Sox were getting their can kicked by the Rays for the second straight night and I desperately wanted a diversion. So I answered the call, which was cool since it was a survey group collecting data for their latest political poll.

They asked me all kinds of questions. How familiar I was with the candidates for both President and North Carolina Senate, how likely I was to vote for them and how I felt about a range of issues. They also asked me some interesting questions about Dole and Hagan’s advertising, what I took away from the ads and what my overall impression of the candidates were based on what I had seen. Needless to say I was all too eager to voice my opinions on all of these subjects.

When it was over, the poll had taken about 10 minutes in which time the Rays had managed to score another 4 runs on the Red Sox so all and all I think it was time well spent. I look forward to seeing the latest polls at FiveThirtyEight.com and knowing that I did my bit to push Barack’s numbers just a tad bit higher for the week. I do what I can.

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.

Dodging A Mean Bullet

Last night saw some of the worst storms come through North Carolina in a long, long time. Around 8pm I first started paying attention to the weather and then around 11:15pm it got really, really bad. I live in Colfax, NC which is just north of the Piedmont Triad Farmer’s Market. We started listened to Britt Whitmire on 101.1 FM Talk after our cable TV went out shortly after 10:30pm and I have to say Britt did a great job of describing where the storm was heading and alerting people to the danger.

Shortly after 11pm the police scanner started really going crazy. The sky was almost constantly lit up from hundreds of lightening flashes, and the rain started coming in buckets. We did not see high winds where I lived, but on the scanner many vehicles all around us were being reported overturned. Lots of damage on Sandy Ridge road, officers going on foot door to door to make sure residents were okay. The section of Sandy Ridge they were talking about on the scanner was only 2 miles from us, so I knew the bad stuff was close. It wasn’t until this morning on the news we found out just how close.

The map you can click on here outlines the intersections that are closed off this morning due to multiple power lines down, trees and buildings and business that have been damaged. The authorities have set up a command post at the Farmer’s Market just to the south, but you can see from here just how close we were to where the tornado touched down. Even worse, my friend and co-worker Corey Marion lives between me and the red zone, so he was even closer to the damage.

I thank God that neither we, Corey or Talos (who also lives in my neighborhood) were in the path of this tornado. Planes (Fed Ex cargo planes, not Sesnas) at the airport were blown off the runway, 18 wheelers were overturned and some people even lost their homes. This is one storm I think the Triad will remember for a long, long time. Scary!

North Carolina’s Patience Pays Off

While watching the primary coverage last night, I was curious about the seemingly large number of delegates that were at stake here in North Carolina. As the Daily Kos reports, it turns out North Carolina received bonus pledged delegates from the DNC as a reward for playing it cool and going late in the primary process:

“To keep states spread out and not all clustered in February, the DNC offered bonus pledged delegates to those states that went late in cycle. Thus, instead of only getting 66 pledged delegates to the Democratic convention in Denver, Indiana gets to send 72. And North Carolina went from 89 delegates to 115. Those extra delegates put Indiana ahead of Tennessee and Maryland and gave it as much voting strength as Minnesota and Missouri. And North Carolina bypassed Massachusetts and New Jersey.”

So thanks to North Carolina’s willingness to wait our turn, not only did we most likely cast the deciding ballots in the race between Clinton and Obama, but our fine state will have more political leverage at the convention. Well done North Carolina, I always knew you were a class act!

North Carolina: Primed & Ready

No one would have expected when the presidential primary season started that little ol’ North Carolina would play such an important part in the selection process. Our state’s late primary has always been something of an “also ran” to the rest of the nation, but not this time. Now we’re center stage and I think I speak for North Carolinians when I say “Let’s do this thing!”

Like many of my fellow NC’ers I’m ready to get in there and vote in the Democratic primary and help elect Barack Obama as our party’s choice for President of the United States. I was speaking to my friends Anthony and Corey this past week at lunch and they both agreed with me that no matter what the outcome, they want to get the primary completed and get onto the general election. Hillary has made several calls to each of them and I could hear the impatience in their voice as we talked over lunch. As the large number of NC early voters reveals, they are not alone.

If the latest Zogby polls are to be believed, then Obama still holds at least a 9 point lead over Clinton as we start the week. Things are tighter in Indiana, but something tells me that Barack just may pull it out and finally, thankfully, put the nail in the coffin that is the Clinton campaign. But knowing Hillary and her “entitled” attitude, it would take nothing short of a miracle to get her to drop out of the race early. Something tells me if Indiana and North Carolina go the way I think they will, she’ll see a number of super delegates abandon her en masse.

I feel like North Carolina is that underused rookie sitting on the bench who turns to his manager and says with fantastic enthusiasm “Send me in coach!”. Our time at bat is almost here and for our sake, and the sake of our children, I hope we step up and hit a homer.