Joe Biden is the choice for Vice President

August 23, 2008 by

Just got my text message a few seconds ago. The choice is Joe Biden.

The news seems to have broken at least a half hour ago.  Guess it was a pipe dream to think that they could really keep it a secret from the press.

Nice try, though.

Text of the message:

From: 62262

Barack has chose Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee.  Watch the first Obama Biden rally live at 3pm ET on  Spread the word!


The InTrade prediction

August 22, 2008 by

For what it’s worth, InTrade has Biden as the most valuable “stock” for the vice presidential selection.

Who is the greenest veep?

August 22, 2008 by

Or “Greep” if you will.

Via Gristmill, Greenpeace provides an environmental scorecard for a bunch of Obama’s potential running mates.

Of the four they profile, it seems like Tim Kaine is the least green veep (legreep? Ok, now I’m just getting punchy.)

The other 3 – Biden, Sebelius and Bayh – all seem to pass the green litmus test.

Taking a break from Veep-a-mania with health care talk

August 22, 2008 by

I got to thinking that aside from Gristmill and a lot of what Matthew Yglesias writes, most of the blogs that I follow on regular basis are a little light on informed information about major issues and the commentary on the candidates’ policy ideas.

Take health care for example.  All of the veep talk and the preparation for the DNC, along with John McCain’s inability to remember the number of houses he owns, have completely buried any talk about health care policy.  There was a small glimpse of it when Senator Clinton started to make some rumblings but for the most part, we’ve been left in the dark by our mainstream media about how our health care system my improve (or not) under a McCain or Obama presidency.

To that end, I welcome “The Health Care Blog” to my blogroll and my Bloglines.  How did I find them?

Hmmm… Step 1: Type “health care policy blog” into Google.  Step 2: Click on first link that comes up.

It’s a veritable treasure trove of information about health care policy, new developments in health care technology, the industry of health care and attempts at reform.

In fact, on their front page, they include links to a bunch of posts that are specifically about Election 08. I’ll be following that feed mostly to see what they have to say about health care-related developments in the race.  Hopefully, they’ll have plenty to say because the candidates will start pushing this issue.  If not, we as voters should start pushing them to do so.

Meanwhile, (h/t – that’s hat tip to you new readers – to my new friends at the The Health Care Blog for a link to an awesome round up of a TON of blogging about health care policy.  The Workers Comp Insider provides the “Health Wonk Review,” a rundown and synopsis of a week’s work of health care policy blogging.

Clicking around in these links revealed a little something that I hadn’t seen in the mainstream press. Remember Harry and Louise? (Go ahead. Click the link. I’ll wait.) Well, they’re coming back.  And apparently, they kinda regret what they said back in the 90s. Kinda.  The group sponsoring the new Harry and Louise ad is a pretty diverse coalition that probably agree on just one thing – the system is broken and needs to be fixed.  How it should be fixed – that’s a different story.  Harry and Louise won’t be answering that question.

Ok… now back to Veep-a-mania.

Still waiting…

August 22, 2008 by

My phone remains silent as I await my magic text message from the great land of Obamamerica.

On the bright side, cable news must be going apoplectice over being kept in the dark like this.

Let’s join the VP frenzy, shall we?

August 22, 2008 by

I must admit.   I caved.  I went to Barack Obama’s website, which I won’t link to here because I think Google will give it to you at the top link for any search that’s remotely close to Obama.

I signed up to get a text message and/or an email of the announcement of his vice-presidential running mate.

Yes, I’m officially part of the frenzy.

So today on Y-Decide 2008, we’ll be suspending issues talk unless the issue has something to do with the choice of V.P.

Will it be Joe Biden?  If so, we can talk foreign policy – Russia, Georgia, Iraq, China, Africa, and so on.

Will it be Evan Bayh?  Let’s talk agricultural issues, economic issues affecting the Midwest and “Rust Belt” states, ethanol, and anything else you think that a Senator from Indiana would have some expertise in.

Will it by Tim Kaine?  He’s socially conservative, in touch with his faith, from a large, increasingly “purple state” that would just about seal victory for Obama if he were to win it.  Would the choice of Kaine bring in the faith-based electorate who might be turned off if McCain chooses Tom Ridge?  Would that choice force McCain’s hand away from Ridge, giving up a potential chip in Pennsylvania?  Kaine is popular in a “red state” despite his opposition to the death penalty, support for some gun control measures (VA is the site of the Virginia Tech shooting), and willingness to raise revenue for transportation and infrastructure.  At the same time, he’s opposed to abortion which makes him a little weak for progressives.  It is refreshing, however, to find an abortion opponent who also opposes the death penalty.

Will it be Kathleen Sebelius?  CNN must not think so since they don’t seem to have her house in their 4-way split screen in which they’re stalking Tim Kaine, Evan Bayh and Joe Biden.  But if so, she’s pretty strong on a number of populist issues in a decidedly socially conservative state (star of What’s the Matter With Kansas after all.)  She’s also popular in the environmental community for standing up to those who wanted to build more coal-fired power plants in her state.  Oh yeah, and she’s a woman not named Cleen-TON.

We should all know soon.

WHYY’s Delaware Tonight crew is in a special position with its longtime coverage of all things Biden.  I’m waiting to hear back about whether we have a reporter on the scene at Biden’s house.  When I find out, I’ll let you know.  So this blog might be your source for on-the-scene reporting from casa Biden.  If it’s any of the others, we’ll be your choice for on-the-scene reporting from my television tuned to CNN.

Check back throughout the day for updates!  I’m going to prepare a post so that when that golden ticket magic text message comes through, I’ll publish the result right away.

And that’s why I don’t use air conditioning

August 21, 2008 by

It all makes sense now.

According to Edward McClelland writing for Slate, air conditioning has made this country into what it is today, whether you like what it has become today or you don’t. If it hadn’t been for air conditioning, Florida would still have a million people and six electoral votes.

But the central McClelland’s central question, “Does air conditioning make people vote Republican?” goes unanswered. Yes, states like Arizona and Florida exploded in population, as did Republican fortress Texas. But where did these people come from?

In line with the grand “suburbanization” of America, most of them probably came from northern and midwestern cities where their moderate to conservative Republican votes were often drowned out by strong urban Democratic party machines, rendering them irrelevant in the several states in which they lived.

Air conditioning allowed all of these city escapees to concentrate in large numbers in a the south and southwest, banding together and creating areas with large amounts of electoral votes. (Yes, Idaho and Montana are usually solidly Republican but with all of 4 and 3 electoral votes respectively, so what?)

So while air conditioning might not make people vote Republican, it definitely seems to have made a lot states go Republican.

I went to and had a little fun with their historical maps of past presidential contests. Though you can’t see it because of the size of this map, Arizona and New Mexico each have 3 electoral votes, Florida has 7, and Texas 23. That year, they all happened to vote Democratic, sending FDR to his third term.

Electoral map from the 1940 presidential election

Electoral map from the 1940 presidential election

Sixty years later, those numbers (and the electoral landscape) had changed radically:

Electoral map from the 2000 presidential election

Electoral map from the 2000 presidential election

By 2000, Arizona had gotten 5 more electoral votes, New Mexico 2 more, Texas 9 more and Florida, a whopping 18 more electoral votes. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania lost 13, Illinois 7 and Massachusetts 5. Texas, Arizona and Florida (and New Mexico in 2004) all shifted from Democratic to Republican with 34 more electoral votes under their control.

Of course, this doesn’t explain why states that didn’t “benefit” by the spread of A/C (Ohio, I’m looking at you) switched over to the red column.  But, as a swing state, Ohio could have gone either way in any of the last several elections.  The point is, the solid south (and southwest) have put themselves in the Republican category, it would seem, with a lot of a/c carrying folks moving in.

Candidates get religion

August 18, 2008 by

I didn’t watch it and the only thing I’ve learned by about Obama’s and McCain’s performances at the faith forum hosted on Saturday night by pastor/author Rick Warren, is that Obama brought his lawyer’s knife to a preacher’s gun fight and McCain may have cheated.

In a world with no room for nuance, I can’t believe that a forum touching on gay marriage, abortion and all of the other deep, philosophical and moral issues that our culture grapples with all the time, could have been that productive.  I’d much rather hear a couple of philosphers or theologans debate this than the guys running to head our secular (as far as I remember) government.

If it were made in the future, the movie just would have been called “Trains and Automobiles”

August 18, 2008 by

Since, as Matt Y. points out, the future for air travel is at best, uncertain:

It’s occurred to me now and again that pretty much every real or hypothetical technological development you hear about that could make things radically more fuel efficient relates to cars. But high oil prices would also imperil the viability of airplanes. And while it’s pretty clear in the case of automobiles that if 10-15 years from now oil is incredibly expensive we’ll be able to shift to plug-in vehicles of some kind nobody seems to think you can build an electric plane.

In my own attempts to figure out a life that’s less dependent on fossil fuels – fewer miles in cars, a growing affinity for trains – I still get stumped when I try to figure out how, for example, I would take that trip to San Diego in November.  The amount of power that it takes to spin a turbine or propeller fast enough to lift a jumbo jet into the air and then keep it up there must be enormous.  Since I’m not an aerospace engineer, I’ll just estimate it at “gobs and gobs.”  Doesn’t seem like any fossil-fuel free option short of a small nuclear reactor could generate that kind of power.

So… no.  It’s unlikely that wind and solar will every be able to propel our planes like, through the medium of the high capacity battery, the plug-in interface and improved electricity transmission, they will be able to do to our cars and trains.  It’s unlikely that extension cord technology will get to the point where our planes can fly while plugged into power on the ground.

I guess this leaves us with science fiction as your only hope.  Anyone have any dilithium on hand?

Is Jed Bartlet backing McCain?

August 18, 2008 by

[UPDATE: Hey folks, I love the discussion that is going on with this post.  I especially love that I wasn’t the only one who detected a similarity in voices for the ad in question.  We’ve moved this blog on to WHYY server so if you’d like to comment on this post in particular, please click on this link and submit your comment there! Thanks and sorry for making you jump through the extra hoop.]

I’m usually pretty good about avoiding campaign ads when I watch television.  Fortunately, neither candidate has decided that the Scrubs-rerun-on-Comedy-Central crowd is pivotal to their election chances.  However, since I’ve stumbled upon this program called “The Olympics” (have you heard of it? stars a guy named Phelps and a mustachioed Slavic guy who yells about judges), I’ve gotten more than my fill of Obama and McCain messages.

I’m wondering if anyone else agrees with me that the voice over for McCain’s “Original Maverick” ad sounds a lot like Martin Sheen.  Every time I see the ad, it takes me about 15 seconds (half of it) to realize that it’s not Sheen lending his support to the Republican candidate.

A quick internet search has revealed that while no mainstream media or big blogs has written specifically about this, at least a few commenters have chimed in with this same opinion.  So at least I’m not crazy. Or maybe, since I’m finding agreement only among blog commenters, a group whose reputation is, shall we say, spotty, I am actually crazy.

Sheen’s recent work as the narrator in a couple of documentary films, Who Killed the Electric Car and The Poet of Poverty, has made me acutely  of his voice, which caused this commercial to jump out at me.

Was this intentional?  Knowing that a lot of progressives and possibly a few independents enjoyed Sheen’s turn as President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing (the show did have about 17 million viewers at its peak), is the McCain campaign trying to capitalize on this.  Could they be trying to confuse the “low information voters” into thinking that the liberal Sheen is on his side?  Or is all just a big coincidence?

I’m done thinking about this for now but I’ll leave it to everyone else to discuss whether they’re also hearing the same voices that I am (for which I’m sure there’s some kind of medication).