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Wide White: September 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What won't Google do?

Google now has a phone coming out in a month.
NEW YORK - The first phone that harnesses Google Inc.'s ambition to make the Internet easy to use on the go was revealed Tuesday, and it looks a lot like an iPhone.

T-Mobile USA showed off the G1, a phone that, like Apple Inc.'s iPhone, has a large touch screen. But it also packs a trackball, a slide-out keyboard and easy access to Google's e-mail and mapping programs.

T-Mobile said it will begin selling the G1 for $179 with a two-year contract. The device hits U.S. stores Oct. 22...
This might be the best part.
The data plan for the phone will cost $25 per month on top of the calling service, at the low end of the range for data plans at U.S. wireless carriers.
That's much cheaper than a lot of other plans. If T-Mobile's third-generation wireless network expands quickly enough, this could be big.

In a related story, Google Chrome crashed on me today for the first time. It is the beta version, so I can't complain too much, and everything restored itself nicely. Still, it was a blip...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

State of the presidential race

I've largely stayed out of the fray of political polls and who's predicted to win what.

Until now.

Real Clear Politics has some excellent analysis that formed the primary basis for my analysis.

If the election were to be held today and all polls were true - even those where the candidates are tied or within one or two percentage points - Obama would win.

This map offers a much more accurate picture of where we currently stand.

Personally, I think the only states that are truly undecided are Colorado, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

And if I really had to predict right now how I think the election will play out, here it is.

Here's my analysis of all of the current toss-up states (defined as having an average margin of less than 5% between the candidates in current presidential polls).

Nevada - slightly too conservative for Obama to win, and McCain has a good relationship with the Hispanic population, which doesn't tend to be as kind to black candidates at the polls. Additionally, McCain is from a bordering state and Palin is also from the West.
Colorado - see "Nevada" above. (This is very shaky though.)
New Mexico - many attributes of the two above states apply, but New Mexico has been a much tougher bid for conservatives. It went for Kerry, then for Bush, with both elections decided by less than 1%. I don't think McCain will spend as many resources here and it will swing Obama's way.
Minnesota - sure, it's a 2-point (negligible) lead for Obama now, but are we really kidding ourselves? Minnesota couldn't even vote for Reagan. There's no way our state is voting for McCain-Palin.
Michigan - I think Michigan has a decent chance to swing McCain's way thanks for the large blue collar population. With the problems black Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has had lately, there's speculation that there may be a statewide disassociation with the black Democrat on the presidential ticket. However, I don't think it would be enough to upset Obama's slim lead here. Michigan is union country, and we all know which way the unions go...
Ohio - in many ways, Ohio is similar to Michigan. However, it has traditionally been much friendlier to Republicans than Michigan has been, and I think it will trend that way in 2008. McCain has done well here over the last few months, particularly in the blue collar areas of the southeast where many analysts think race may be a sad factor working against Obama.
Pennsylvania - see "Michigan" above. McCain has pulled to within a virtual dead-heat and it's not entirely unheard of for a Republican to win statewide office, but the state has been Democratic for the last few years and I just don't see that changing. There's too much Northeast Liberal influence here. Besides, Joe Biden lives near the border in Delaware and was born in Scranton, PA. Obama will carry it.
Virginia - the only state in an actual tie right now (48-48), it will break McCain's way. It's similar to Ohio in its historic friendliness to Republicans, and while Democrats have made significant gains statewide over the last 2 years, I don't think the state will break Democratic in a national election. It's got too much of the conservative south in it.
New Hampshire - much like Pennsylvania, it's not unheard of for Republicans to win here. Bush carried the state in 2000, Kerry in 2004. But, also like Pennsylvania, it's in the heart of the Northeast and won't be able to resist the urge to go the way of its neighbors.

There you have it. I predict a McCain win. Actually, once I was done doing my state-by-state analysis, I was sure I had predicted an Obama win. I was really surprised to see McCain come out on top in my prediction.

I think the race will really come down to Colorado, which is the only state I predicted would fall differently than it's currently polling (it leans towards Obama by .6%). If Obama is able to get enough of the young evangelical Colorado Springs-type crowd on his side, he wins the state and the election. I don't think it will happen.

But there's a LOT of election to go...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Commando Coalfire Palin

That would be my name if I were Sarah Palin's kid.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In America, they're heroes

I don't know what this says about how soldiers are viewed in Britain, but I sure hope treatment like this isn't normal.
Wounded Soldier Forced to Sleep in Car After Hotel Denies Him a Room

A wounded British soldier home from Afghanistan on sick leave was forced to spend the night in his car after a hotel refused him a room.

Corporal Tomos Stringer was told by staff at Metro Hotel, in Woking, that it was company policy not to accept members of the armed forces as guests. The 24-year-old had traveled to the Surrey town to help with funeral preparations for a friend killed in action.

It was so late that Cpl Stringer, who had broken his wrist jumping off an Army truck as it was attacked, had no choice but to sleep in his tiny, two-door car, arm covered in plaster.

Cpl Stringer, of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, has now returned to Afghanistan, but his mother, Gaynor Stringer, from Criccieth, north Wales, told The Times that she is still furious about the incident.

“I’m very, very angry. It’s discrimination. They would never get away with it if it was against someone of ethnic origin,” she said.

She said they had received neither an apology nor an explanation from the hotel, which is part of a family entertainment center called The Big Apple and owned by a company called American Amusements.

"In America, they treat soldiers as heroes,” said Stringer, whose son joined the Army when he was 16 and has done multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.

The incident has prompted widespread condemnation from senior members of the Government, MPs, servicemen and their supporters.

Legions of army men and enthusiasts are rising up in the forums of the unofficial British Army Web site to call for a boycott of the hotel.

Sarah Palin, meet Teddy Roosevelt

I got an email forward today noting similarities between Palin and Roosevelt. I thought it was worth taking a second look. Here's what I found.

Palin's experience in 2008: city council (4 years), mayor (6 years), governor (2 years)

Roosevelt's experience in 1900: state assembly (3 years), Asst Sec. of the Navy (1 year), governor (2 years)

Palin's age: 44

Roosevelt's age: 42

I don't know how anyone can find a huge difference in the experience that the two had. Both served on various commissions as well, but neither had very extensive experience to draw from, particularly international experience.

Roosevelt, one of our most popular presidents, became president after just 6 months as a vice president. It could happen again...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Watch your hair

This is just weird.
Ramsey hotel clerk robbed of hair
Associated Press

RAMSEY — A Twin Cities hotel worker says she was the victim of a hair heist.

Kristine Rippon, a desk clerk at the Comfort Suites hotel in Ramsey, claims a man suddenly cut off her ponytail, then ran away Sunday.

Rippon says the man walked into the hotel and asked her if she would consider cutting her hair. She says she told him she wasn't interested.

Rippon — who hadn't cut her hair in 17 years — says the man asked if her hair was real, and she let him touch it. She turned to walk away, but the man grabbed her ponytail and cut it off.

A witness told Ramsey police she thought the man paid Rippon for her hair. Officers are waiting to check surveillance video from the hotel.
I really hope the witness is right and she made that up.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

McCain polling ahead or even

Depending on which poll you follow.

USA Today: ahead 50-46
Gallup: ahead 48-45
CBS: 42-42

(The CBS poll was taking Mon - Wed, which would have been prior to McCain's and Palin's speeches.)

It's also important to note that candidates who lead after a convention still have just about a 50-50 chance of winning historically. But this does prove that McCain is definitely in it.

I haven't been able to track down state-by-state polls to see who's leading in battleground states and it's too late for me to spend more time trying right now...

Google Chrome

I downloaded Google Chrome yesterday. (For those in the dark, Google just released a new web browser in beta version last week called Google Chrome.)

My first impression is that it's better than both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. While Internet Explorer 7.0 is FAR better than IE 6, it still has issues with slowness and overly ambitious security features, among other things. I've been a Firefox user for a while and have been frustrated with two things. 1.) Slowness. Things just take a while to process. It's better than Explorer in this department, but it still could use improvement. 2.) When a tab times out, it closes the entire Firefox page, which means that when I have 6 tabs going (which I often do) they all go down.

Google Chrome fixes both of these problems. It's definitely faster than Firefox and each tab runs independently, so if one times out (and they haven't yet), only that tab is closed.

I've been using it less than 24 hours, so I suppose the jury is still out. But so far, so good.

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain beat Obama

I'm not sure we'll be saying this election night, but when it comes to convention acceptance speeches...
McCain Speech Breaks Obama’s Week-Old Viewership Record

Nearly 39 million people watched Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s acceptance speech on the closing night of the GOP convention Thursday in St. Paul, Minn. That broke the week-old convention record of upwards of 38 million viewers set by Sen. Barack Obama only the week before.

Sen. McCain amassed an audience of 38.9 million viewers for his speech on two fewer channels than were carrying Sen. Obama’s speech Aug. 28 to 38.38 million viewers, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.

In addition to the three broadcast networks and three cable news networks carrying both closing speeches, Sen. Obama’s speech was carried live by BET and TV One, which target African American audiences, as well as Spanish-language Telemundo and Univision. Sen. McCain’s speech was carried by Telemundo and Univision.

Sen. McCain’s audience dwarfed the 25.57 million who tuned in for President Bush’s acceptance speech on closing night, Sept. 4, in 2004.
Kind of cool to be a part of history!

H/T: Jinx.

Newt says it well

I can't think of anything where Obama has fought his party either.

H/T: Owen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

John McCain's speech

The part of the video with "John McCain is" followed by McCain's mom interjecting "Mama's boy" was great. He loves to use his mother to convince people he isn't as old as he seems, and it was just funny.

WOW!! McCain just walked out and you just can't help but feel like you're part of something big. I suppose that's just the nature of events like this, but it's still pretty cool.

A few protesters have proven very effective at disrupting the speech. The chants of "USA" are obviously intended to drown out the protesters.

I can just see the "We lost their trust" line being used by the Obama campaign in an ad and campaign speeches against McCain. The point is good and needs to be made, but I have a feeling it will be spun against him.

I'm not sure how effective the compare/contrast "I will.../My opponent will..." really is. It just seems a little too political, partisan, and over-simplified for a speech essentially meant to attract the undecided voters.

Choice in education is great, but I'm not sure how it relates to the federal government. It shouldn't relate to the federal government. I don't like this portion of the speech at all. Yes, it all sounds good, but much of what he discussed isn't handled by the federal government and it shouldn't be.

"I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not." It's a well-worn theme, but still one he has to successfully sell.

The schtick about not caring who gets the credit for accomplishments in Washington is a little empty if you ask me. It's a great ideal, but seriously, elections (including this one) are always about who can take credit for what. I don't think I've seen one that didn't involve that.

Ouch! The piece about not running to save his country in its hour of need is an obvious direct hit on Obama. We've heard that line from a few people tonight.

The guy next to me likes to let out a really bad "huzzaahhh!!" when he feels like it's a big moment.

I'm sure everyone at home heard the last few paragraphs of the speech, but the applause was so deafening I couldn't hear a thing. I imagine it's tough to keep talking, knowing that no one in the building can hear you but that everyone at home can and that the effect of the applause while you speak makes it that much more electric for viewers at home. It makes me feel a little bit for Howard Dean's "Dean Scream" in 2004.

The speech has been over for 10 minutes and they're still dumping balloons and clapping and rocking out. It's crazy. And the McCain and Palin families have left.

John Boehner is speaking...I guess he's just introducing the pastor who's giving the benediction. I'm not sure how he's going to be heard above the deafening noise of the balloons popping. He's going to try though. Wow. As soon as he started praying, everyone shut up.

Boehner is wrapping up the formalities and it's a wrap.

All in all, not a bad speech by McCain, but I think any bump in the polls he received will be due more to Palin than to him.

I'm heading home.

A little flat

Cindy McCain is less than engaging. All things considered, she's probably done about as well as she's going to do. But they took away the podium in anticipation of John McCain's anticipated townhall-style speech and I don't think that's Cindy McCain's element. She's parked between the teleprompters where the podium was and hopefully the TV shots are zoomed in because her stance is a bit awkward and uncomfortable. I get the impression that she would be utterly lost without the teleprompter. Hey, I would be too, but I'm not introducing a presidential candidate to the nation. She's sweet and brings some feel-good qualities, but I don't feel like she's brought very much energy to the finale.

Then again, Giuliani didn't have such a great speech last night and things couldn't have turned out much better for Sarah Palin. We'll see how things shake out for John McCain...

No, thank you!

Tom Ridge just worked everyone up into a "That's John McCain" chant. I realized that I don't think I ever want 15,000 people chanting my name. I just can't imagine receiving that kind of adulation and feeling good about it. Maybe the candidates are able to channel that attention to the greater cause of what they want to do for our country. I sure hope that's the case.

A video on Cindy McCain is running. It's made me like her more (I haven't been a fan), so I guess it worked.

She's on stage now to the biggest standing ovation of the night.

Delegate placements

I've noticed that the state delegations closest to the podium are the battleground states. Ohio could spit on the speakers. Michigan isn't far behind, followed closely by Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, etc. Solidly red or blue states like Nebraska, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Maryland, etc. Are in the back. It's all about maximizing the energy of the people you most want energized.

NFL and NASCAR legend Joe Gibbs just spoke. It was a pretty cheesy speech about the role of faith in politics and God's will. There were some really bad analogies to go along with what sounded like some bad doctrine. I don't think the Southern social conservatives could get enough. His speech was followed by an equally cheesy song that continually repeated the phrase, "Put me in the game coach, I'm here to play", or something like that. I'm not sure if that was referring to "Coach God" or Cooach Gibbs...

What's with that?

Tim Pawlenty spoke with a backdrop that went from the Grand Canyon to Mesa Verde. It seemed odd. It also seemed odd that the governor of the convention's home state, a leading VP contender and staunch McCain supporter, was given such an early speaking time slot.

Also, I'm having problems sending pictures, presumably because my phone has decided it doesn't want to handle the attachments. I'll keep trying though...

Seating and celebrities

[I thought I'd sent this a half hour ago, but just realized it didn't get sent.]

It's been 2 years since the last convention I was a part of, the Wisconsin Republican State Convention. I certainly didn't anticipate being a part of anything this year, much less the biggest possible event for the Republican Party. So, while the view from my seat isn't that great, I'm not complaining! (And I just might try moving over a few sections...)

On my way in I saw Chris Matthews, Amy Klobuchar (being interviewed by Matthews), Rachel Maddow (they were doing her makeup), and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. And I saw a guy who looked exactly like Sen. John Thune, but I couldn't tell for sure.

"Country First" signs are scattered all over the delegate seats and delegates are filing in, quirky outfuts and all. I'll never understand those...

All about Palin

(Pictured above is Florida Senator Mel Martinez, taken from my new and improved seat.)

A number of congressional candidates (including Minnesotan Erik Paulsen), congressmen and women, senators, and a governor have spoken so far. The resounding theme: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Sarah...

I've been really surprised at how much coverage she's received and how little anyone has talked about McCain. It's at least a 1:2 ratio between content on him versus her.

I talked to Owen from Boots and Sabers for 20 minutes or so. It was good to see someone I knew! His blog was the first that I read when I found him during the 2004 WI Senate primary race. I've moved states since then, but I still read Owen.

No schedule?

There's still no current schedule for this evening's events at the convention, so I'm not sure what time to head over there. I'll probably try to make it over in the next hour or so.

There is, however, a full slate of McCain meet-and-greets with various ethnic groups. Included today are African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian- and Pacific-Americans, and Irish-Americans.

I can't say I quite understand the purpose. I suppose it's coalition-building.

UPDATE: No sooner did I post this than a few more meager details came out. Festivities begin at 5:00, though there are still no details on what will happen and in what order. Speakers will include MN Gov. (and near-VP candidate) Tim Pawlenty, former PA Gov. (and near-VP candidate) Tom Ridge, SC US Sen. Lindsay Graham, and Cindy McCain.

I can't say it's the most exciting lineup. My initial reaction is that I probably would rather have been there last night. Giuliani was less than impressive, but the rest of the lineup was at least energetic. Tonight's lineup doesn't sound real energizing.

Then again, a lot can change when surrounded by 20,000 screaming crazies, and I am interested to hear what McCain will have to say that's new at this point.

UPDATE 2: A new, in-depth schedule has been posted here.

5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Entertainment (Music): Al Williams
  • Entertainment (Monologue): James McEachin
  • Call to Order, Introduction of Colors: Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan
  • Presentation of Colors: Fort Snelling Joint Services Color Guards
  • Pledge of Allegiance: Olympians Ryan Berube, Mitch Gaylord, Brittany Hayes, Barbra Higgins, Larsen Jensen, Elle Logan, Marcus McElhenney and John Naber
  • Singing of the National Anthem: Trace Adkins
  • Invocation: His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Speaker: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.)
  • Speaker: Erik Paulsen
  • Speaker: Jay Love
  • Speaker: Charlie Summers
  • Speaker: Aaron Schock
  • Speaker: David Cappiello
  • Speaker: U.S. Sen. John Ensign (Nev.)
  • Video: "Country First: Peace," with narration by Robert Duvall
  • Statement of Rule Regarding Vice Presidential Nomination; Recognition of Delegates Making Motions; and Adoption and Announcement of Nominee: U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.)
  • Speaker: Maria Cino, President and CEO of the 2008 Republican National Convention
  • Speaker: U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
  • Speaker: The Honorable Rosario Marin
7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Speaker: Joe Watkins
  • Speaker: U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.)
  • Speaker: Gov. Tim Pawlenty (Minn.)
  • Speaker with Video: Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.)
  • Speaker: Lt. Gen. Carol Mutter, USMC (Ret.)
  • Speaker: U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.)
  • Speaker: U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin (Okla.)
  • Video: "World Stood Still"
8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Speaker: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
  • Video: "Vice Presidential Nominee Governor Sarah Palin"
  • Speaker: Former Gov. Tom Ridge (Penn.)
  • Video: "America’s Place in the World"
  • Speaker: Mrs. Cindy McCain
9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Video: "Senator John McCain"
  • Speaker: Presidential Nominee John McCain
10 p.m. to Conclusion
  • Floor Demonstration, Balloon Drop, McCain and Palin Families on Stage
  • Introduction of Presiding Officer: U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio)
  • Benediction: Pastor Dan Yeary
  • Introduction of Delegate for Motion, Adoption and Adjournment: U.S. House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio)

I'm crashing the convention

That's right. If all works out, I'll be at the Republican National Convention tomorrow, courtesy of Sean, who's been staying with me all week but is leaving tomorrow afternoon. (I suppose it's today rather than tomorrow by now...late night getting things together for it since I'm leaving straight from work.)

My last post with the photo of my computer screen was sent from my phone. I wanted to make sure it would work to post from my phone since there's no plug-in for a laptop at the Xcel Energy Center (and I don't own a laptop and would need to borrow one from work, which I didn't want to do). So, any blogging from the convention I'll be doing from my phone. I'll bring a digital camera, but won't be able to upload any of those pictures until later and as you can see from the last post, the photo resolution on my camera is pretty low and probably isn't worth trying to use.

From what I understand the seats are in the upper deck, so I don't anticipate having a great view. But any time I get a chance to be a part of history, I'm going to take it, regardless of which party is involved and especially when it's free!

Reaction to Palin's speech

I just watched Sarah Palin's speech on YouTube. Politically, my initial reaction is that it was excellent. She attacked Obama much harder than I expected, which politically she needed to do.

We still don't know how she'll do on the stump, in a debate or when challenged on the campaign trail. We just found out she can do a really good job of reading a teleprompter (with a few good ad-libs to boot), but I think we still need to see more. Still, if she keeps this up, I can only see her helping McCain's chances.

Best moment: the acknowledgment of McCain's fellow POW, Tom Moe. It was really a touching moment.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thoughts on Sarah Palin

I haven't said anything yet about what I think about Sarah Palin and I thought it was time to break the silence ahead of her speech tonight.

No one can argue that Palin is likeable. She's "normal"; she's easy to identify with for many people because she isn't far removed from the life that the rest of us lead.

And therein is her greatest weakness. Nobody really knows whether or not Palin is capable of leading this nation or even serving as right-hand-woman to the leader. While I don't think this is a problem, it is a question that voters rightly want answered. Much as Obama needs to work harder than McCain to prove that he's experienced enough to lead this nation, Palin will have to work that much harder than Biden to prove she's a capable VP (assuming anyone is still following the VPs a week from now).

Typically VP candidates fill the presidential candidate's weaknesses, bringing something to the table that the presidential candidate doesn't have. Palin does this in the following ways:

1.) She's a woman.
2.) She's not entrenched in Washington.
3.) She has strong conservative support.
4.) She readily identifies with rural and middle class America

McCain is weak in all four of these areas. However, with the possible exception of the second bullet point, these are all strictly political reasons (unless you think a female perspective is an important asset) that don't tell us a lot about what she'll bring to the table once in Washington.

That's not to say Obama's pick wasn't political either. Obama's advantage over Palin in experience is small, with just four years of national exposure in the Senate, half of which has been spent running for president or on book tours. Obama needed someone on his ticket who would help detract from that inexperience. Senator Biden fit the bill. He's been entrenched in Washington for years.

However, Senator Biden's years of experience would also presumably serve Obama well in office. He's also a policy wonk who would serve as a trusted adviser to Obama. I don't think anyone knows what kind of an adviser Palin would make. It's not necessarily a problem, it's just a huge unknown that Palin has to deal with and Biden doesn't.

So far I've found myself agreeing with Palin politically more often than not, for what it's worth. The move seems to have been a political win for McCain so far. Those who didn't like McCain on the left still don't. Those who didn't like McCain on the right now do. Those in the middle are still trying to figure everything out.

I'll be watching the vice presidential debate much more closely than I would have otherwise. I'll be watching Palin's speech tonight. I know what she brings to the table as a political candidate, and I think it will help McCain. But I want to know what she would bring to the table once she hits Capitol Hill.

At the end of the day, this race is about the leading candidates. But I'm still anxious to learn more about what non-political campaign assets McCain thought Palin would bring to Washington.