Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Invitation to AABW Readers

Not sure how many of you are still around out there. But if you see this and are interested in continuing to read thoughts and news by myself and others, please join us at CurEvents.com. This is my original discussion board, which I shut down before I started AABW but subsequently reopened. It is open to all who are interested in mature, intelligent discussion. You can find instructions for registering at the site.

Have a great holiday season!

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Invitation to AABW Readers

I just wanted to repeat what I said in an earlier post, so that some of my loyal readers will see it.

I've set up a fledgling new discussion board and will be transitioning there over the next week or so. I will be posting editorials, news articles of interest and random thoughts, and members of the board will be able to not only respond to my comments but start their own threads as well.

Membership is by invitation only and limited to those whom I feel would be worthy contributors. If you've followed AABW for a while and are interested in joining, please read this FAQ and the follow the directions at the end.

Thanks everyone!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Future of AABW -- Transition

Not sure how many folks will even see this, as I've let the blog go somewhat of late, and there isn't a high readership. For those die-hards who are interested in my postings, though, just a quick word of explanation.

I enjoy expressing my thoughts here at Blogspot, but I don't really like the format much. The format is cumbersome, and the commenting feature is crude. More than that, I don't really like being in such a "one-way-only" mode of communication.

As a result, I've set up a fledgling new discussion board and will be transitioning there over the next week or so. I will be posting editorials, news articles of interest and random thoughts, and members of the board will be able to not only respond to my comments but start their own threads as well.

Membership is by invitation only and limited to those whom I feel would be worthy contributors. If you've followed AABW for a while and are interested in joining, please read this FAQ and the follow the directions at the end.

Thanks everyone!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Polls Tightening? Nope.

Here are the most recent reputable polls from various battleground states.


Rasmussen: Obama +4
CNN: Obama +7
InsiderAdvantage: Obama +9
Marist: Obama +6
AP-GfK: Obama +9
Rocky Mtn News: Obama +12
National Journal: Obama +4


Quinnipiac: Obama +2
Rasmussen: Obama +4
Strategic Vision: McCain +2
CNN: Obama +5
Miami Herald: Obama +7


PPP: Obama +2
Rasmussen: McCain +3
Selzer: Obama +0.6
Survey USA: Obama +4
Research 2000: Obama +1
Howey-Gauge: McCain +2
Big Ten: Obama +9.5


Rasmussen: Obama +1
SurveyUSA: Tied
Research 2000: Obama +1
CNN: McCain +2
Mason-Dixon: McCain +1


PPP: Obama +1
Rasmussen: Obama +2
Mason-Dixon: Tie
CNN: Obama +6
AP-GfK: Obama +2
National Journal: Obama +4


Rasmussen: Obama +4
Research 2000: Obama +5
CNN: Obama +7
AP-GfK: Obama +12
Suffolk: Obama +10


Quinnipiac: Obama +9
Rasmussen: Obama +4
Strategic Vision: McCain +3
SurveyUSA: Obama +4
PPP: Obama +7
U. of Cinc: Obama +3
CNN: Obama +7


Quinnipiac: Obama +12
Strategic Vision: Obama +7
SurveyUSA: Obama +12
Mason-Dixon: Obama +4
CNN: Obama +12
Rasmussen: Obama +7


Rasmussen: Obama +4
PPP: Obama +9
SurveyUSA: Obama +9
ABC/Post: Obama +8
CNN: Obama +9
VCU: Obama +11
Mason-Dixon: Obama +2
Marist: Obama +4

Doesn't look too tight to me, especially when you consider that nearly every one of these was a red state in 2004. Obama only needs to pick off one or two of these to win; McCain needs to pretty much run the table.

And just for fun, I should also point out that McCain is now up only by the low single digits in both Georgia and even his own home state of Arizona.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Bush/Cheney Legacy in a Nutshell, Courtesy of the NY Times Business Page

Two headlines say it all.

U.S. Economy Contracts as Consumers Cut Back Sharply

The economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the third quarter, as personal consumption spending fell for the first time in 17 years.

With 58% Jump in Profit, a Record Quarter for Exxon

In what might be the high-water mark for corporate profits, Exxon Mobil reported quarterly income of $14.8 billion as oil prices hit a record this summer and gasoline soared.

They have served their masters well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Got Pitchfork?

A vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for hate.

Be sure to watch the video there -- but not right before bed.

McCain Advisor Calls Palin a "Whack Job"

Better late than never to wake up, I suppose:
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, on a “demoralized” McCain campaign: “Palin is going to be the most vivid chapter of the McCain campaign's post-mortem. … Those loyal to McCain believe they have been unfairly blamed for over-handling Palin. They say they did the best they could with what they got.”

***In convo with Playbook, a top McCain adviser one-ups the priceless “diva” description, calling her “a whack job.”
November 5th is going to be fun. And nobody deserves it more than the GOP.

Unsung Heroes: Americans with Principle Refuse to Engage in Smear Calling

It's nice to see some of the "soldiers" in the McCain slime war no longer willing to "just follow orders":

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being "dangerously weak on crime," "coddling criminals," and for voting against "protecting children from danger."

Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it's located in Hobart, IN.


"We were asked to read something saying [Obama and Democrats] were against protecting children from danger," this worker said. "I wouldn't do it. A lot of people left. They thought it was disgusting."

This worker, too, confirmed sacrificing pay to walk out, saying her supervisor told her: "If you don't wanna phone it you can just go home for the day."

There is still hope for the nation.

Voting For is Not the Same as Voting Against

One of the standard responses from the right-wing knuckle-dragging crowd to assertions that Obama will be hurt by racists who refuse to support a black candidate is to look at the high percentage of his support by blacks and say that this is racist in the same manner, because these blacks are voting for Obama because he's black.

It is not the same, and the reason comes down to attitude -- whether the decision is made on the basis of a positive or negative orientation.

First of all, we must recognize that the vast majority of blacks have voted Democrat for decades. Second, the Republicans and McCain have run a campaign that has nothing in it to appeal to urban or black voters, further emphasizing a shift to Obama on their part. And third, there has been overt racism on the part of the right. But my point goes beyond that.

In an ideal world, people would choose candidates solely on the basis of their policies and character, not other attributes, but we don't live in an ideal world. Many people will give preference to a candidate because they identify more with him or her, or because they perceive a natural link based on background or geography.

Choosing someone for these sorts of reasons may not be the way I'd like it to be, but at least it is being made out of a positive association. There's a big difference in choosing someone because you are excited about supporting someone like yourself, and voting against someone because they are different than yourself.

This happens all the time in politics and nobody even pays attention to it. For example, one of the "conventional wisdoms" in picking a VP has always been to choose someone who can "help carry a state". Why should this even be a factor? Because people like to vote for a "local boy/girl". So we saw a big spike in McCain's polling in Alaska when Palin was chosen (some don't realize that Obama had been competitive there up to that point, not that it mattered much.) This is done because of local pride and identification reasons. It may not be entirely rational but it's nothing nefarious.

We see similar things in other respects as well. For example, people were urging McCain to choose Lieberman as his running mate in part because his religion would appeal to Jewish voters in the swing state of Florida. We've also seen VPs chosen because of their age -- the Biden choice is arguably partially in this camp. And of course, there's the appeal to women angle of choosing a woman VP like Palin, or some of the support Hillary Clinton had.

Voting against a candidate on the basis of these factors is an entirely different matter, because it is based not on positive feelings such as pride or excitement but rather on fear, hatred and resentment. Voting for a candidate because he comes from your home state is not the same as voting against a candidate because he comes from a state you don't like. Voting for a woman because you are excited about a woman being elected is not the same as voting against a woman
because you don't want a woman elected. And voting for someone because you feel association with his race is not the same as voting against him because of race.

Are some black supporters of Obama racist? Almost certainly true. I would imagine that part of the increase in turnout to support him consists of blacks who would vote for a black candidate but not a white one. But I believe this is a very small number. Remember that blacks have, ever since they were granted the right to vote, had no choice in this regard -- they have always voted for white candidates. I can understand them being excited about the chance to support oine of their own for a change.

Nearby Solar System Looks Like Our Own at Time Life Formed

From Wired:
A nearby solar system bears a striking similarity to our own solar system, raising the possibility it could harbor Earth-like planets.

Epsilon Eridani, located about 10.5 light-years from our sun, is surrounded by two asteroid belts that are shaped by planets, astronomers at SETI Institute and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced today.

But it's the possibility that currently undetected smaller planets could lie within the innermost asteroid belt that make the solar system intriguing to astrobiologists.

"This system probably looks a lot like ours did when life first took root on Earth," said SETI's Dana Backman, lead author of a paper on the 850-million-year-old star that will appear next year in The Astrophysical Journal, in a release.

Images at the link.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Must Read: The Top Ten Reasons Conservatives Should Vote For Obama

This election shouldn't even be a contest, even for conservatives, and Andrew Sullivan explains why.

The Mormon Church Has Lost My Respect

My views on religion range from admiration, through apathy, to antipathy -- it all depends on the religion. While I find it hard to take most religious beliefs seriously, I think that moderate, tolerant religion can be a force for good; on the other hand, extremist belief systems can be and are a destructive element in society.

The Mormon (LDS) church has always come under attack from both the left and the right because of its somewhat odd beliefs and customs, but I've always been a staunch defender. The main reason is that Mormonism has always struck me as the sort of religion that focuses on the positive. In particular, I greatly admire their strong family orientation, and their focus on personal and community preparedness. I've also noticed that with the exception of one atypical individual, I've never met or encountered a member of the LDS whom I did not think was a good person. And while they evangelize, they don't push their beliefs on others.

In short, I don't care if they believe in Native American angels and gold plates and "magic underwear" or whatever else. That's their business. They seem like decent people who care about their families and they don't get involved in the negative aspects of religion. They also mostly stay out of politics.

Or at least, they did until now.

It turns out that Mormons are largely driving California's Prop. 8, which seeks to make gay marriage illegal in that state, and are coming under (deserved) criticism for this. From where I stand, this puts the LDS at odds with its traditional message, and casts its lot with Christian fundamentalists who see their role as being not merely to use religion to bring themselves up, but to hold others down.

Some have speculated that the LDS is doing this to try to get more support from right-wing Christians who don't think they are "Christian enough". If so, then they are making the same mistake that John McCain made in picking Sarah Palin -- abandoning the middle. While the LDS may care more about what other Christians think than what a heathen like myself does, there will be consequences for them deciding to get involved in this issue.

And the other Christians will never accept them anyway.

Watch America Go Back to Sleep

Earlier in the year the price of oil spiked, and everyone freaked out. The right started screaming about drilling and the left started screaming about alternative energy. And regular people just started screaming when they went to the pump.

Now, with a looming global recession, the price of crude oil has plummetted over 50% in just a few weeks. I was in Pennsylvania over the weekend, where I saw gasoline prices as low as $2.49.

This is great news in the short term, but very bad news in the long term, because it means America is going to collectively go right back to sleep on the energy issue. It has utterly disappeared from the presidential campaign and from media awareness. But it hasn't disappeared from reality.

The dropping oil price is one of the silver linings of the recent economic collapse, but we must use it as an opportunity rather than imagining that it means the underlying issues have gone away. While some of the oil price rise was overshoot due to speculation, it is also clear that it is now overcorrecting in much the same way. And regardless of price, we still have a dwindling resource sought by a growing population.