getting polled by corporate america

In preparation for my meeting this evening with my MoveOn handler, I did a little research into the precinct I’ve been assigned, and it looks like we fit the profile that they want. In the last presidential election, this precinct was overwhelmingly against Bush. Gore took 450 votes to Bush’s measly 141, and Nader took an impressive 74 for the Greens. When you take those odds and then consider that 60% of those registered didn’t vote in the election, it would seem to indicate that there’s a huge untapped potential for Kerry (assuming, of course, that those registered voters who sat home followed essentially the same distribution).

On Election Day 2000 this precinct showed 1,668 registered voters. Only 673 of those voters, however, came out to cast their votes. Our job now is to find those other 990+ people, discern which are likely Kerry supporters, and then do whatever it takes to get them into voting booths.

While we’re on the subject of the election and what percentage of Americans think that Bush is leading this country in the wrong direction, you might be interested to know that the Gallup organization is beginning to take some heat for their recent claim that Bush was 14 points ahead of Kerry (when most other reputable sources were placing the lead at about 3 points). According to a full-page ad that ran in today’s New York Times, it may have something to do with the fact that the President of the Gallup firm, believes he’s doing the work of God. Here’s a quote from the ad: “Gallup, who is a devout evangelical Christian, has been quoted as calling his polling ‘a kind of Ministry.'” (You can download a pdf of the ad at the MoveOn site. Just look in the left hand column. I just went to the Gallup site, looking for a response, but couldn’t find one. If you can, let me know.) At least on the surface of it, it would seem as though the charge might have some merit. Gallup is showing the gap to be much wider than their competitors and by doing so they are affecting the outcome of the election. Like it or not, some people do ultimately cast their vote not for the best person, but for the person they think will win.

* This post was brought to you by Section 1971 of the Voting Rights Act, which states that no person shall “deny the right of any individual to vote in any election because of an error or omission on any record or paper relating to any application, registration, or other act requisite to voting, if such error or omission is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under State law to vote in such election,” thereby making the actions of J Kenneth Blackwell of Ohio, that were mentioned in last night’s post, illegal. (Thanks to Arun for the link.)

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

i found the scream

Posted in Photographs | 6 Comments

who will be allowed to vote and which votes will count

Last week, I think I may have been a bit too quick to feel complacent after having heard that the Democrats are outpacing Republicans by a huge margin in new voter registrations within swing states. It looks now as though things may not be that cut and dry though. A Republican official in Ohio, for instance, is asserting that a number of new voter registrations from more liberal-leaning precincts are not acceptable due to the fact that they aren’t printed on 80-pound paper, a requirement of some obscure Ohio law. And, even though they’ve had four years to work out their problems, the Republican-governed state of Florida is still making it difficult for Democrats to register and vote. On the subject of Florida, here’s a clip from a BBC News story on the outstanding issues as identified by former US President Jimmy Carter, a man who has helped guarantee democratic elections all over the world.

In an article in the Washington Post newspaper, Carter, a Democrat, said that he and ex-President Gerald Ford, a Republican, had been asked to draw up recommendations for changes after the last vote in Florida was marred by arguments over the counting of ballots.

Mr. Carter said the reforms they came up with had still not been implemented.

He accused Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood, a Republican, of trying to get the name of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader included on the state ballot, knowing he might divert Democrat votes.

He also said: “A fumbling attempt has been made recently to disqualify 22,000 African Americans (likely Democrats), but only 61 Hispanics (likely Republicans), as alleged felons.”

Mr Carter said Florida Governor Jeb Bush – brother of the president – had “taken no steps to correct these departures from principles of fair and equal treatment or to prevent them in the future”.

“It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation,” he added.

So, I guess the hope is that we can register new voters at a faster rate than they can disqualify them. That’s not democracy, but I guess that’s the game we’re playing now.

*This post was brought to you by Name the October Surprise, a game the whole family can enjoy.

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sweating with the bloggers

I’m not positive, but I think that I may have been sharing exercise equipment this evening with Ann Arbor’s most well-known and respected blogger, professor Juan Cole. Cole, a professor of History at the University of Michigan, has received a great deal of attention over the past few days for a piece that he’d written entitled “If America were Iraq, What would it be Like?.” Unlike most things that get pushed around the blogosphere, this piece really was deserving of the attention it garnered. It wasn’t snide. It didn’t bait its audience. It just laid out the facts as they are, made them relatable to American readers, and in so doing broke through the noise of everything else this past week, all the nonsense about swift boats and National Guard service. Here, in case you haven’t yet read it, is how the article starts:

President Bush said Tuesday that the Iraqis are refuting the pessimists and implied that things are improving in that country.

What would America look like if it were in Iraq’s current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

Those of you who are fans of Dr. Cole’s work will be happy to know that he, if indeed he was the man that I think he was, keeps himself in great shape. (A healthy blogger is, after all, a productive blogger… or is that, “An unhappy blogger is a productive blogger?” I can never keep those sayings straight.) A very tall man in baggy shorts, who wears his black socks half-way over his knees, Cole was easy to spot and keep track of from ‘fat man’s nook,’ the area where I like to wallow. I spent half an hour watching him leap from one machine to the next, leaving himself no time to rest in between. He was a man possessed. He reminded me for some reason, in the way he approached machines, of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry. I stood there in awe of the older man, staring at him and wondering what I’d say if I had the courage to approach him.

I told myself that I should ask him about the piece that I linked to above and whether or not it meant anything to him that so many people are now reading his analysis of Iraq, but I know that I, being me, would have asked him something else, something less appropriate. In this particular case, I know I would have asked him about the medical-looking device that he had strapped to his arm. All I could see of it was a bit of plastic tubing peaking out from behind gauze, but it captured my interest, and I know, if I’d opened my mouth, that’s what I would have mentioned. I think that perhaps he was receiving some kind of chemical drip, something to keep him awake and focused on current events, a tiny micro-stream of insulin and caffeine. It was either that, I thought, or some kind of device he wore to drain an open sore, like a little micro sump-pump…. I like the first explanation so much more.

On the subject of draining open sores, my father used to tell me that his uncle Raymond, after he came back from the Pacific, where he served during World War II, would have to have his mother, my great grandmother, insert “milkshake straws” into the open sores on his back to drain them. I can’t remember all the details of the story, but Raymond, a demolitions expert and a diver in the Navy, I believe, had to spend a great deal of time living in a cave on Guam, surrounded by the Japanese, subsisting on moss and insects. That, everyone thought, was what caused his weeping sores. I believe he was dead before I was born.

One thing I should add before you go running over to his site, Cole is an academic, and he doesn’t mess around with the kinds of smart-assed quips that the rest of us with blogs like tossing around so much. So, if you go to his site, be prepared for a different experience. His posts aren’t personal. They aren’t dripping with angry venom. They’re… well… scholarly. And good. He sticks to the facts, he uses reason, and he makes solid points. And, because of this, he really stands out from the blogger pack. (If you don’t believe me, check out his site and then read the New York Times Magazine piece on the other folks blogging about politics.)

Lastly, while we’re on the subject of college professors, have you read the interview with Bush’s old Harvard Business School prof? Here’s a little taste:

“I don’t remember all the students in detail unless I’m prompted by something,” Tsurumi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “But I always remember two types of students. One is the very excellent student, the type as a professor you feel honored to be working with. Someone with strong social values, compassion and intellect – the very rare person you never forget. And then you remember students like George Bush, those who are totally the opposite.”

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments

warm and happy huhnar

I just got something really cool in the mail… Remember a few months ago how I told you all that Linette and I, while we wouldn’t be accepting any gifts for our new daughter, would be expecting them for her constant companion, Huhnar, the stuffed chicken-man? Remember how, when the gifts for Huhnar didn’t roll in fast enough for my liking, I cursed all of you who didn’t send something immediately with cancer of the eyes? And remember how, after a lot of people complained, I backed off and removed the threat? Well, it would appear that two MM.com readers, a Mr. and Mrs. Smallwood of Virginia, kept right on working when the rest of you stopped. (Maybe they just didn’t hear that I lifted the threat of ocular cancer.) Today, in the mail, Huhnar received a wonderful hand-woven sweater from the Smallwoods. Isn’t it beautiful?

I like the way it keeps Huhnar’s wings pinned to his back. Quite frankly, all his strutting and flapping was beginning to drive us nuts. (On more than one occasion, Linette, at her wit’s end, had spelled out the word “S-O-U-P” to me over the sound of his clucking and fluttering.)

Many thanks to the talented Mrs. Smallwood and her new husband, the man who (I suspect), afraid for his own eyes, begged her to knit this.

Posted in Mark's Life | 1 Comment

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