Blogs

Obama's Grandmother Got to Cast a Vote for the Man She Raised

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 8:11 AM EST

As you probably know by now, Barack Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, died yesterday, one day before the nation decides if the man she raised gets to be the next president of the United States. To many — Obama himself probably first among them — it felt like a punch to the stomach. As a middle-aged white woman raising a half-black boy in the 1970s, Dunham led an unconventional family. As Obama tells it, she was undaunted by the challenge. In fact, she embraced it. In a statement about Dunham's death, Obama and his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, said, "She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances."

But take heart, Obama supporters. According to Eli Sanders of the Seattle Stranger, Dunham was able to cast her ballot before her death. Here's Kevin Cronin, chief election officer for Hawaii, speaking to Sanders:

Ms. Dunham's absentee mail ballot was received and reviewed under the Hawaii standards for processing absentee mail ballots… She was alive at that time. Her ballot will be opened tomorrow, and it will be counted in the same way that all absentee voters would be treated under our law.

No word, of course, on who she voted for. I suspect we can guess. What a proud moment that must have been.

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Kindergarten Landslide

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 2:46 AM EST

My five-year-old came home with an "I Voted" sticker on Monday and informed me that he'd cast his ballot for the guy he's insisted for weeks on calling "OhRock Obama." Turns out that he was part of the "Every Kid Votes" program, in which some 800,000 kids in all 50 states (what company president Ed Rickers calls a "significant sampling") made their choice, with OhRock prevailing 59 percent to 41 percent.

Just sayin'.

Early Returns

| Tue Nov. 4, 2008 2:04 AM EST

EARLY RETURNS....The fine folks in Dixville Notch, NH, have recorded their usual midnight vote:

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday's first minutes. The town of Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots but got no votes.

Looks like a big win for Ron Paul to me. He's probably planning his 2012 campaign already.

Then and Now

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 8:18 PM EST

THEN AND NOW....In 2004, everyone complained that John Kerry was an old-media plodder who didn't react quickly enough to conservative attacks. What a dunce! In 2008, everyone is praising Barack Obama for keeping his composure and not letting conservative attacks knock him off his message. What a cool customer!

Just curious: Am I the only person amused by this?

What Comes From Alaska & May Save Us All?

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 7:17 PM EST

Oudemansiella_nocturnum.JPG No, not these miraculously fast fruiting bodies but these ones: mushrooms. That's right. The fungi growing in the dry spruce forests of Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia and other northern regions are fighting global warming in unexpected ways. When temps rise and soils warm, fungi are not increasing the rate at which they convert soil carbon into carbon dioxide—as many feared. Instead they dry out and produce significantly less CO2.

Northern forests contain an estimated 30 percent of the Earth's soil carbon. That's equivalent to the amount of atmospheric carbon. Which means that mushrooms are not contributing to a vicious cycle of warming in dry boreal forests. Instead, they're actually preventing further warming from occurring. Possibly giving us a teensy bit more time to implement responsible policies to counteract warming globally. . . Starting with responsibly electing the next president of the United States. The study, btw, appears in the journal Global Change Biology.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the PEN USA Literary Award, the Kiriyama Prize and the John Burroughs Medal.

Joe Mania

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 7:05 PM EST

JOE MANIA....A Norfolk station asked John McCain today why he wasn't doing better in Virginia. Here's his answer:

"We're doing much better actually, there's a poll out today that shows we're within about three so we're moving up and moving up fast. And look, Joe the Bomb — uh — Joe the Plumber turned the whole thing around."

The comical part of this is that McCain almost called him "Joe the Bomber." Ha ha. But the genuinely weird part of it is McCain's bizarre embrace of Joe. It's one thing to use the guy as a campaign prop, but to tell the world that it was Joe who "turned the whole thing around"? That Joe is his personal "role model"? You gotta be kidding. Those aren't things you'd want to admit even if they were true, are they?

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Election Day: SWAT Teams at the Ready

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 6:21 PM EST

Early%20Voting.jpg

I voted the good ol' fashioned way today—in person at my Oakland polling station (though a day early to beat tomorrow's chaos). I was nervous when I saw the nightmarish line at Alameda County Courthouse, but surprisingly, I got out in about an hour fairly unruffled. The place was fully staffed, the line efficient, and the mood upbeat. A guy quipped, "Obama better appreciate this," as he dutifully made his way to the back.

Not a whiff of the tension that riot police and SWAT teams are gearing up for tomorrow in Oakland—a phenomenon that, strangely, hasn't been very widely reported. Troubling, considering that it's happening mostly in cities with large black populations like Atlanta and Chicago.


Early%20Voting2.jpg


Nichole Wong

Obama's (And Our) Clean-Coal Blues

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 4:16 PM EST

The Internets are all atwitter today with talk of Obama's supposedly devastating admission that he wants to "bankrupt" the coal industry in the United States. An Ohio industry spokesman said Obama is a "disaster"; conservative blogs are attributing the remarks to some kind of San Francisco "truth serum", and Sarah Palin is accusing the San Francisco Chronicle, which conducted the offending interview back in January, of deliberately hiding its content from voters. (See the article and the Chron's rebuttal here.)

I just want to make a few points to inject a little sanity into this discussion. First, as I mentioned above, the quote comes from a comprehensive sit-down interview Obama conducted with the Chronicle nearly nine months ago. (Watch the whole thing here.) Since then, his stance on this issue has been pretty consistent. He supports a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions (as does John McCain, by the by), as well as the development of "clean coal" technology.

Here's where we get to the real problem. In the interview, Obama asks, "how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon? And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it?" Characterizing unilateral opposition to coal as "ideological," Obama also stresses that since we already get so much of our electricity from coal, we can't expect to eliminate it from the mix anytime soon. "If technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it," he concludes.

But when it comes to "clean coal", it's environmentalists who should be worried, not coal executives.

A Tax Cut Everyone Should Support

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 2:51 PM EST

A TAX CUT EVERYONE SHOULD SUPPORT....Riffing off a Rachel Maddow segment about stupendously long lines to vote, largely in poor urban precincts, Ezra Klein says:

The poll tax was a sly system of disenfranchisement used in the Jim Crow era to disenfranchise Southern blacks. Aware that the Constitution now assured everyone the "right" to vote, Southern states imposed a voting fee heavy enough that African-Americans would deem it a right too pricey to exercise. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, of course, did away will all that. But as Rachel Maddow says in the clip above, voting lines are just another form of poll tax. They are a time tax. How much is four hours worth to the average voter? How many voters can take four hours off from their job, or their family, to stand at a precinct? We tend to frame long voting lines as an inspiring vision of democracy, but they're quite the opposite: They are disenfranchisement in action. A longer line does not simply mean more people are voting. It means more people are not voting, as they could not afford the time tax.

Just for the record, the poll tax wasn't actually especially "sly." Everyone knew exactly what it was for. But point taken anyway. The flip side, of course, is neighborhoods like mine. I live in an upscale, white, suburban city, and you will be unsurprised to learn that I haven't had to wait more than five minutes to vote since the day I moved here. Quite a coincidence, eh?

Election Day Arrives: Should Obama Supporters Worry?

| Mon Nov. 3, 2008 2:45 PM EST

obama_fret250x200.jpg Democrats are notoriously skittish. Conditioned by decades of underperformance in presidential elections, where they have secured just three victories in the 40 years since Richard Nixon first won the White House, and in Congress, where the Dems have only recently recovered from their crushing 1994 defeat, Democrats are like the metaphorical field mouse, constantly spooked at the first bit of bad news.

The Obama campaign appears to be an exception to that trend. It has inspired more than just hope — it has inspired confidence. So much so that national polls show that wide margins of Democrats and Republicans alike assume Obama will win the presidency. In fact, the Obama campaign has released a video warning supporters of the dangers of over-confidence.

But as Election Day nears, it's likely you know anxious Democrats who just can't help themselves. Four things cause worry.