Former Reagan Chief-Of-Staff Slams Sarah Palin: “Not Ready”

Wow….there is no sting like that from the GOP itself. 

2008 Presidential Predictions

We have finally arrived at the point in the election cycle where we can vote!  And the campaign commercials can end!  HOORAY!

I have my predictions broken down into three sections.  First is a brief analysis of the lay of the land, second the states are listed for each presidential candidate along with the electoral vote tally and projected final popular vote percentage, and third is a series of Congressional and Senate elections listed by state that I have been following, and wish to weigh in on.

First however, I want to post these predictions in honor of Tim Russert.  Mr. Russert loved the political campaign season, and was having a delightful time with the primaries that he covered earlier this year.  I know that he would have much enjoyed this summer’s events between the candidates, the intensity of the fall race, and been waiting anxiously for Election Day.  Tim’s sudden death earlier this year cast sadness over the political season.  It may seem corny to some, but in this small way his memory lives on here with those who love the excitement that a rough and tumble political season can produce.  Just like he did.  So this one is for Tim Russert.

Part One-The Political Landscape

The trends are clearly in Barack Obama’s direction, though the final results in many states are hard to decipher from the polling.  As I file this post for the weekend before the election I expect this race to tighten in the last 72 hours. The fact that this election was more about Obama needing to sell himself to the electorate, than the voters deciding who created the mess that caused our national distress and voting accordingly, is one reason that the polls are harder to read.  In addition is the unknown number of voters that will turn out, and to what degree the Obama GOTV effort will produce an outcome that might shake the rafters.  Also we need to be mindful of how many Republicans might feel so dispirited they may decide to not vote.  The biggest unknown is the degree to which racial bigotry will play a role.   (I might add with a wry smile that the bigotry from the GOP over the past years regarding Hispanics and immigration is one reason that the West will deliver for the Democrats,)

The winner of the White House will create a historic chapter for our nation.   However, having said that, I have a more conservative view of the lay of the land.  I have never thought that the Obama campaign was going to produce a landslide.  I still know our country is bitterly divided along cultural lines.  Two months ago, if pressed, I would have predicted that John McCain would have won the White House.   But after Sarah Palin, an economic crisis, and perhaps the worst run campaign in recent memory, John McCain has no chance to win.  We need to be mindful that no candidate, like McCain that is behind this far in the national polls, and this late in the campaign has come back to win.  Granted there have been come-from-behind victories, but they didn’t come back this far so late in the game.  In addition early voting has made comebacks harder and diminishes the impact of the kind of late-breaking development that might have worked for McCain.  I have read reports that suggest 1/3 of all votes might have been cast by early ballot.

So while Obama wins, I do not see an Electoral College tsunami.  I know that many are forecasting such an event, and if it happens, I will be elated.  But my mind and gut is telling me that a more conservative view is the correct one.  Either way, America will elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States.

I am watching three separate races in three Eastern States where polls will close early, and as a result I think much will be known about the mood of the electorate early on Election Night.

First, in Virginia I will be watching to see if Barack Obama wins.  If he does, the night will be far shorter for John McCain, though it will feel like a very long night for the Republican Party from sea to sea.   It might also tell us that there is more than a mere ‘win’ coming for Obama nationally as the night continues.  A Virginia win for Obama might mean a huge victory of landslide proportions when all the votes are counted.  While I am predicting Virginia goes to Obama, I do not see the big sweep that so many are predicting.  In addition, if there is something happening for Obama in ‘red’ states, this means that McCain needs to pick up all the swing states.  Much might be told in Virginia.

Second, in North Carolina I will be watching the Senate race between Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole, and her Democratic challenger Kay Hagan.  This race is indicative of whether Democrats will win enough seats to be in the zone of a 60-seat majority.  A defeat of Dole in North Carolina would aid the Democrats by putting them on the road to getting near the goal of 60 seats.

Third, the 4th Congressional District in Connecticut will be a barometer early in the evening to see if the House gains by Democrats will be closer to 15 or to 25.  Incumbent GOP Christopher Shays is one of the last of his party to serve in Congress from the Northeast.  Jim Himes, the Democratic opponent is close to undoing the 12-term Shays.  I hasten to add there have been others who came close in past elections.  Still, this race early in the night will tell us a great deal about the new Congress.

Part Two-And The Winner Is…

Barack Obama 291 Electoral Votes- 53.5% of the popular vote.

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin

John McCain 247 Electoral Votes

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah,  West Virginia, Wyoming

Part Three-Congressional Races

Democrats will have 57 U.S. Senate seats at the end of the night, and a gain of 22 House seats.


Placing the right of the electorate to vote on the civil rights for another group in this nation has been discussed at length on this blog.  If there is anything that can be labeled ‘un-American’, it is the desire of some to continually seek ways to undermine gay rights.  The latest such attempt, and a very dangerous one, is Prop 8 that seeks to undermine the California Supreme Court decision to allow for gay marriage.  There is no good way to poll on these measures, so no one knows what might happen.  I fear that many African-Americans who will turn out in large numbers for Obama, will allow cultural differences to come ahead of working for the civil rights of gay Americans. Much as I hate to predict it, Prop 8 will pass. 


4th CD-I suspect that even in this year where anything labeled GOP suffers, that Christopher Shays did just enough to distance himself from the tainted conservatives in his party to stay in office….again.  I will admit this is one tough politician and so he at least deserves a tip of the hat for dexterity under fire, which he dealt with this year.  If he were to lose that would be an indicator of the mood of the nation, and it would mean a very good night for House Democrats.


While I think Senator Saxby Chambliss, the Republican incumbent wins, it has been a race of twists and turns.  Democratic challenger Jim Martin has turned a large pro-Obama movement his way, and helped to split the conservatives who are angry with Chambliss over the bailout vote.  It has been real interesting to see the Big Business Republicans fight the populist conservatives over the bailout measure.  Libertarian Allen Buckley is making this race even more interesting as election rules could force a run-off if one of the contenders does not make it over 50%.  Just for pure theatre this race will be fun to watch as the hours roll by on Election Night.


Senator Mitch McConnell should not have even needed to be talked about as a possible ‘leaning’ Republican seat.  As the Republican Minority Leader he should have never had a problem in his state.  But after the GOP treatment of South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle in 2006, this is tit-for tat.  In addition, this race has intrigued me all season, as McConnell seems to have a closeted view of the world.  The rumors about why he was discharged from the military during the Vietnam era after only four months of service has made for lots of speculation.  I think McConnell wins this election, but the questions about his ‘lifestyle’ (isn’t that the GOP way of speaking) will not go away.


I have long thought that the second most vulnerable U.S. Senator was Norm Coleman, (Dole being the first) and I still feel that way.  Though one of his opponents, Al Franken, has at times run a sloppy campaign, and made some, (lets be honest), stupid mistakes, I think the outrage over the condition of the nation, along with the Obama vote, will make the Democratic challenger the winner.  Dean Barkley from the Independence Party is drawing double-digit support in the polls, and while this confuses the race, I think the economic woes carry Franken to victory. As I write there are some poll results that show Coleman to be faring a bit better, but I think the cement hardened on this race a couple weeks ago.  Franken wins.


A rematch that has been lots of fun to watch between Jill Derby the Democratic candidate, and the Republican incumbent Dean Heller, will produce a different outcome than in 2006.  Derby wins, and the Obama coat-tails will be the reason why.  John Kerry lost Nevada by 21,000 votes, and Obama has registered 5 times that many new energetic voters.  More younger voters live here and plan to vote, and fewer over 65-age voters make up the district.  Welcome to Congress, Jill!


2nd CD-If there is any common sense in the 2nd CD Jean Schmidt will be retired this evening.  Long on my radar after her most uncivilized speech on the House floor against a fellow member, there is only one place she deserves to be.  On the outside looking in.  The name-calling incident was a one-minute House speech by Schmidt that put the House of Representatives in an uproar. In that minute, Schmidt criticized Congressman John Murtha, and used the term “coward,” saying s “…send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”  Schmidt has two opponents in her race, Democrat Victoria Wulsin and Independent David Krikorian. In spite of more African-American votes due to Obama, I am predicting that Schmidt will win, but still hope that sanity might prevail.  Her type of behavior in a legislative body is unforgivable.


8th CD-This is the only real congressional race in the state, and I think it will be a long night counting.  While Republicans are not popular nationwide, John Gard was not in Washington these past two years, and I think that makes all the difference.  Northeast Wisconsin is very conservative, and even a strong Obama vote will be hard pressed to save incumbent Democrat Steve Kagen.  The CD might elect a Democrat, but they have a hard time sending one back for a second term.  Only Democrat Robert Cornell won re-election.  Kagen is smarter, but Gard wins.  The district will be the loser in the long run.


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Election Night Food: Country Jam Cake Recipe

I think that great food on Election Night is vital for a houseful of politicos that need energy for a long night of watching the returns come in from around the nation.  Eight years ago I made a magnificent meal, (yes I can cook and bake!) and as we know Election Night turned into a nearly month long nightmare.  So in 2004 when we had a group of friends over to watch the returns, we had a new menu, and James was the chef for the evening.  Things still did not turn out well for Democrats, but we ate well while watching the ship sink.  This year however I am throwing caution to the wind and will re-enter the kitchen to again repeat the same menu of high carb/high calorie foods from 2000.  If for some reason Barack Obama were to lose the election….don’t blame the cook!

In addition to my famous stuffed manicotti (one pan meat filled, the other pan cheese filled for our vegetarian friends) is a homemade cake that is simply put, quite awesome.  After all the ingredients are stirred and mixed into the batter you add the final wonderful ingredient……..blackberry preserves.

Country Jam Cake Recipe

  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped dates, optional
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup blackberry jam, seedless
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Preparation:

    Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, soda, salt, and spices. Sift a little of the flour mixture over the nuts and raisins or dates. In a mixing bowl, cream butter; gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and blackberry jam. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk. Beat until smooth after each addition. Fold in nuts and raisins or dates. Pour into three 9-inch layer cake pans and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes. Spread cream cheese frosting or your own favorite icing between layers and over cake.

  • Directions for cream cheese frosting
    Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat well until smooth. Makes enough cream cheese frosting for a 2-layer cake.
  • ‘Gay Cabinet’: Wealthy Political Fighters For Civil Rights Make National Impact

    A truly impressive article that gives light to ‘The Cabinet’, an organization that works to make inroads for social justice.  While others have written and talked of the work these folks do, this article will allow for greater visibility.  The article even includes Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.

    Time Magazine reports.

    Among gay activists, the Cabinet is revered as a kind of secret gay Super Friends, a homosexual justice league that can quietly swoop in wherever anti-gay candidates are threatening and finance victories for the good guys. Rumors abound in gay political circles about the group’s recondite influence; some of the rumors are even true. For instance, the Cabinet met in California last year with two sitting governors, Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, both Democrats; political advisers who work for the Cabinet met with a third Democratic governor, Wisconsin’s Jim Doyle. The Cabinet has also funded a secretive organization called the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), which a veteran lesbian activist describes as the “Gay IRS.” MAP keeps tabs on the major gay organizations to make sure they are operating efficiently. The October 2008 MAP report notes, for example, that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force fails to meet Better Business Bureau standards for limiting overhead expenses.

    According to the online databases and, the seven members of the Cabinet have spent at least $7.8 million on political races since the beginning of 2004, although their true level of giving is doubtless far higher, since — which is run by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics — does not capture all contributions to PACs (for instance, the Cabinet money that went to Ebbin’s PAC in 2005 doesn’t show up on the website). The Cabinet spends at least as much each election cycle as does the PAC run by the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest gay political group. And yet the Cabinet has operated in stealth, without accountability from watchdogs. (The Cabinet does not subject itself to MAP analysis.)

    There’s nothing illegal about the Cabinet’s coordination of its members’ giving, according to Lawrence Noble, campaign-finance expert with the Washington-based firm Skadden, Arps. The contributions would be illegal only if the members agreed to give up control of their donations entirely or coordinated them directly with a campaign. There’s no evidence of either; several people associated with the Cabinet made clear that its members make their donations without anyone’s review. And yet as the National Review’s Byron York has pointed out, Americans were horrified to learn during Watergate that Richard Nixon’s friend Clement Stone had donated an outrageous $2 million in cash to the President’s campaign. Cabinet members have spent at least five times that amount in various races in the past four years; the Soros-backed Democracy Alliance has spent probably 50 times that amount.

    Still, it’s hard to argue that the left in general and gays in particular should sit on their hands while foes outspend them. Strategically, the Cabinet makes sense; most people who defend its secrecy offer a Machiavellian understanding of ends and means. “I could lose a lot of sleep about it, and I do wonder why they have abandoned [gay] organizations that have a 35-year track record in order to have their own operations,” says a seasoned Washington gay activist. “But if that’s the way the rules of the game are being played, I need to maneuver within what the realities are.”

    The larger question is what role wealthy groups like the Cabinet will have in reshaping the politics of the left. There’s been a great deal of (largely self-congratulatory) talk among liberals about the progressive movement’s success in using new technologies to harness the netroots, to use the fashionable liberal argot. But there has been less reflection about what impact the great gobs of Sorosian money will have on the movement. Michael Fleming, a Los Angeles political macher who advises Cabinet member Bohnett, worries that rank-and-file gay people — the ones who might have picked up a rock at Stonewall — are increasingly relying on billionaires to cut checks. “Where is the outrage?” he asks.

    The answer is that outrage has given way to smugness, the kind of self-satisfaction conservatives displayed after electoral successes in 1980 and 1994. Groups like the Cabinet and the Democracy Alliance suggest a new kind of moneyed progressivism, one that shows little of the class discontent that animated earlier strains of leftist thought. Is this a sign of maturation — throwing off radical excesses — or capitulation, a surrendering to the idea that efforts to reduce the power of money in our democracy have failed? Probably a little of both.

    For its part, the Cabinet seems poised to prod the gay movement into being sleeker, faster, more tactical. When the remaining veterans of Stonewall march down Fifth Avenue next summer, those shimmeringly romantic, slightly foolish days of 1969 will have never seemed so distant.

    TV Switching From Analog To Digital In February 2009

    Starting in February 2009 all TV’s will switch from analog to digital.  See the conversion process in this quick video…..even an old woman can do it…kinda.

    What Is It Like To Be A Reporter Following A Presidential Candidate?

    First off, let me say I thought I was the only person who loved Candy Crowley from CNN so much that I would search her out at political rallies.  After reading this article I am starting to think I am more mainstream than some would have me believe. I had always said to James that it would be great fun to have Crowley over for dinner (that perfect dream meal), and now after this article I know she could really have used some home cooking.

    But seriously, I think this is just an excellent piece about the chaotic nature of being a journalist on the campaign trail.  It still sounds exciting to me……and I still think Crowley a CNN star.

    CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley has taken to running through a checklist before bed. Every night she travels with the Obama campaign, she orders a wake-up call, sets one regular alarm and one back-up on her cell phone, which she places strategically out of slapping distance across the room. Then she writes down her vitals: What city is she in? What time zone? What time does she have to be out of the hotel room the next morning? What day is it? With that, she can drift off before the next day’s campaign coverage. Most of the time, though, Crowley is so scared to oversleep that she’s awake and waiting, long before the alarm–any one of them–ever rings.

    “After the previous campaign, it took me a good month to stop waking up in the middle of the night in a panic that I’ve missed something,” Crowley says.

    On most days, adrenaline is enough to get her through the “The Situation Room” and “Anderson Cooper 360,” but it’s all she can do not to zonk out in the car between events. At campaign rallies, Crowley, a self-described loner, is mobbed by “CNN junkies,” all of them clamoring for a picture or an autograph. (“That’s why I love my iPod,” she says.) Crowley was with Barack Obama when he declared his candidacy in February 2007, and has been going nearly non-stop ever since. She has heard all the speeches, covered all the campaign ads. She can’t remember her last furlough and her “strategic nice reserve” ran out two months ago. Now in the final lap Crowley just wants to go home.

    “After a while, you just miss your house, you know?” she said from Chicago on Monday. “I miss my back yard. I miss going to the grocery store.”

    She’s not the only one pining for a more mundane life. “I haven’t seen a movie in about a year,” said New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, also in Chicago with the Obama campaign. “I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with civilians.”

    Matt Bai, his colleague at the Times and himself a seasoned political reporter (who, with two young children at home, has mostly recused himself from intensive travel this year), speaks as if he’s watched his countrymen go off to battle. “There are guys who went out to the primaries in November, December, and thought they’d be done in February or March, and they just never came home,” he says with grave admiration. “They never came home.”

    Why I Do Not Vote Early

    “It was invisible, as always.”

    That is the opening sentence from a book I think about, and read sections of, every four years right before Election Day.

    The line comes from the classic “Making Of The President 1960” by Teddy White, a groundbreaking book at the time, as it told the story of the 1960 election in a way that had never been done before.  Since its publication it has served as the model for presidential journalism.  The book opens with, in my estimation, four of the best-written paragraphs about the national drama of voting.  White evokes an image that is still nostalgic, and yet honest and relevant these many decades later.

    Teddy White writes of the small villages in New Hampshire where votes are cast at midnight, and then in a few sentences he weaves his way through the day and across America until the last votes are cast after supper.  But always it is “unpredictable-invisible”.  As the polls close the result of the  “fitting together of these secrets, is of course, the most awesome transfer of power in the world”, and it still is that way in 2008.  He continues, “Heroes and philosophers, brave men and vile, have since Rome and Athens tried to make this particular manner of transfer of power work effectively; no people has succeeded at it better…than the Americans”.

    Many of my fellow citizens are voting early across the nation in city halls and other venues.  They are eager to cast a ballot for their candidate, and also wish to avoid the long lines that are forecast for this coming Tuesday.  While I encourage voting, and applaud the national commitment of fulfilling a duty, I also know these voters are missing something by not waiting until Election Day.

    For the past 28 years at every election (local/state/national) my father and I have a phone chat in the late afternoon.  By the time we talk he has cast his vote, as have I.  We then ask each other what number we were at the polls, and since I live in a big city will tell him what % of the total in my ward had voted.   My dad still votes at the same small building in Hancock where I cast my first ballot for President in 1980.  That year we both went to vote after my dad finished work, and then went home for mom’s dinner.  I still recall her laughing that we cancelled each other out, and then “now wash your hands before dinner gets cold”.  (My dad and I no longer cancel each other out at the polls!)

    On the phone my dad and I will talk about the voter turnout, and what our hopes are for the outcome.  It was my dad who always told me that he liked to vote later in the afternoon so he could get a sense of turnout, and how things were going.  In addition over the years in our phone calls he would add Mr. —- or Mrs. ……was at the polls, and have a nugget of news or such to tell.  Voting has always been more than just pulling a lever, or marking a ballot.  It is a shared experience.  Throw in a bake sale with chocolate brownies and I might even try to vote twice.  (Just kidding J.B.)

    Casting a ballot on Election Day is a tradition, and to me it would make no more sense to vote in late October at city hall, than it would be to open a Christmas present on December 1st.  I can recall the cold windy days with fall leaves dancing around as I cast my previous presidential ballots.  I can still see the flags that were displayed along the driveway to the church where I voted on the west side of Madison.  I loved the old ladies there that were hard of hearing, and after giving my last name they still had problems understanding, so I always added,  “like Hubert”, and then they would say……” oh yes, such a nice man” and find my last name with ease.

    Whatever gets you to the polls is the most important thing, of course.  But there is a special commanality to this voting experience that only comes by waiting until Election Day.  

    My dad and I will see you at the polls.

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    Elvis Presley Still Number One

    As if we had to read it in print to know it was the truth.

    There is a certain frustration in knowing that no matter how much money you make this year, you’re more than likely to be out-earned by a man who hasn’t even been alive since 1977.

    Welcome to the annual Dead Celebrities pay list from Forbes Magazine, which showcases the money the dearly departed are still raking in decades after they stopped doing business on this planet. “While things might be topsy-turvy in the financial markets above ground, it’s still a bull market in the boneyard,” concludes.

    How much money can you make from the grave? It’s morbid but lucrative.

    As usual, the King remains the king. Elvis Presley managed to pull in $52 million between October 2007 and the same month in 2008, with record sales, a new Elvis-only satellite radio network, Graceland and his image continuing to draw big bucks.

    How successful was the leader of the so-called Memphis Mafia? Despite being unavoidably absent from the recording studio, he still managed to earn more than Justin Timberlake’s $44 million or Madonna’s $40 million.

    Shouldn’t there be a law against putting Elvis and Justin Timberlake together in the same sentence?