August 26, 2008

Slate at the DNC: Twitterific

Posted in Politics tagged , , at 11:14 pm by Lindsay

In celebration of both Slate Magazine and Twitter, I bring you the highlights of the Slate writers’ Twitter feed from tonight’s activities at the DNC:

Schweitzer would’ve brought in the crucial lariat tie vote.

If this race is all about the future, then why are they playing Huey Lewis?

Clinton on the 2008 campaign: I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

Outstanding shade of orange on Clinton’s pantsuit. What would you call that? Salmon sashimi?

After that video you sure you don’t want Hillary?

Petrol Dictators = great band name

Schweitzer is 08’s Obama.

“If you drill in all of John McCain’s backyards, even the ones he doesn’t know he has…” Line of the convention so far

SOMEONE TOLD WARNER TO TALK LOUDLY FOR EMPHASIS

What a great use of Twitter – brief, clever commentaries delivered to the audience instantaneously.  Slate will be continuing their tweets throughout the convention, and then at the RNC next week.  Follow Slate on Twitter here.

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March 13, 2008

Honring Hen: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:09 pm by Katelyn

I had the priviledge of hearing Justice Ginsburg speak at a Jewish Americans event a few months ago.  I did not attend the event with hopes of an interesting conversation between Ginsburg and the moderator.  I assumed it would be educational & scholarly – lecture-style – given her position, but I was pleasantly surprised by a witty & intimate conversation.

Ginsburg grew up in Brooklyn among working class immigrants with a mother adamant about independence and education.  Ginsburg made her mother proud by attending Cornell University for her undergraduate degree and continuing on to Harvard Law School (though she graduated from Columbia Law School) at a time where the dean would ask the women what it felt like to occupy places that could have gone to deserving men.

Ginsburg went on to a law career as an advocate for specific causes — National Organization for Women & American Civil Liberties Union — until she was appointed a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter in 1980 and then appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993.

One statement Justice Ginsburg made that left an impression on me about how far she has come and how she is representative of so many people was this: “The difference between a bookkeeper and a Supreme Court Justice?  One generation. “

February 9, 2008

Couples crossing over

Posted in Politics tagged , , , at 5:51 pm by Katelyn

I only have internet connection for a brief amount of time, but I wanted to post something I heard on NPR the morning after Super Tuesday. A reporter was recapping her conversations with voters from the primaries the night before, and she noticed that for the majority of couples with whom she spoke, the trend was that the husband voted for Clinton and the wife voted for Obama. I found that very interesting, and actually a colleague of mine said he and his wife were the exact same way. Obviously this is only one reporter out of hundreds who noticed this trend, but I wonder why the men were the ones willing to accept the idea of a female president. Is it that the women could not, or simply that Obama’s stance on certain issues is more appealing? Maybe there’s no conclusion or theory to be drawn from this, but I thought I would throw it out there.

February 7, 2008

And Then There Were Four…

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , , at 9:08 pm by Lindsay

Some might say three.  I would.  But officially, there are four candidates left in the presidential primary race.   Rudy watched his campaign evaporate in the Florida heat and Mitt Romney bowed out after a less-than-super Tuesday, leaving quasi-conservative McCain and Mike I-don’t-believe-in-evolution Huckabee for the red.  On the blue side, media darling Obama and poll-leader Clinton.  (Note: I don’t pretend to be unbiased.  I have my allegiances.  If you care to defend your candidate, comments are welcome!)

Here’s where the candidates stand in terms of delegates:

Clinton 1,033 vs. Obama 937

McCain 714 vs. Huckabee 181

Remember, in our STL goes to Washington post about delegates, we explained how superdelegates aren’t attached to any state’s results and therefore are only estimates.  Also, the delegates won by drop outs are redistributed.  Slate explains that further here.

So it looks like McCain’s your grand old guy.  Most think that all Huckabee’s running for anymore is the office of vice president, being that he’s so far behind in the delegate count.

There are still several months (yes, months) of primaries to go.  I’m looking forward to Ohio and Texas on March 4th.  But then again, with so close a race it might be up to South Dakota and Montana in their final June 3rd primaries.   Let’s hope a clear winner appears before then.

February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Posted in Politics tagged , at 3:18 pm by Lindsay

Just a friendly reminder that today is voting day for all those living in “Super Tuesday” states. 

I’m attempting to stay away from the insta-pundits on the cable news networks today.  No doubt they’ll try to make a dramatic mess out of everything while “projecting” the winner before any other network. 

There are still many hours to go until polls close.  Until then, I’ll be biting my fingernails…

January 25, 2008

That’s Debatable

Posted in Politics tagged , at 1:06 am by Lindsay

Lately I’ve been missing all the presidential primary debates.  I don’t realize a debate is underway until I get a text message or phone call from my trusted blogging partner or sister saying, “are you watching the debate?”  The last couple of times this has happened, I find myself saying “another debate? really?”  I don’t have the exact number of how many have taken place, or will take place before the conventions, but I can safely say it’s in the range of 15-20.  (If anyone knows the actual number, let me know.  From my initial research, it seems there are many, like myself, who seem frustrated with the lack of communication from the parties regarding the official debate schedule.)

Are that many debates really necessary?  I don’t believe so.  In fact, I think that past a certain point, debates may be more harmful than helpful to the democratic process.  Debates allow a candidate to clarify and support their stance on relevant issues and policies, as well as highlight any differences they might have from their competition.  However, this objective is readily met within the confines of a handful of mulitple-hour debates.  After seven or eight debates, the candidates are forced to rehash issues and stances they’ve already been over.  And then things get ugly.  The debates turn from policy discussions to free attack ads.  They begin to attack each other’s integrity and history, because they’ve already been over what it means to truly have a universal health care plan a thousand times before.  With fewer, more focused debates, the candidates would be forced to use their time wisely and discuss the truly important tenets of their candidacy. 

For those of you who have watched the last couple of debates, were they truly constructive in helping you choose a candidate to support?  Or were you too busy wiping mud from your television set?

January 14, 2008

STL Goes to Washington: Viability & the Second-Choice

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , at 4:26 pm by Katelyn

In an effort to show my support for uniting the people no matter what side of the aisle, I will say this: Republicans sure know how to make a clear and simple caucus process! I am going to briefly discuss the Democrats’ caucusing process and more specifically, the viability threshold and the second-choice candidate.

At a democratic caucus, a candidate’s supporters must make up at least 15% of that precinct’s caucus-goers. If the candidate does not meet that 15% threshold, he/she is considered not viable. Supporters can then either attempt to attract more supporters in order for the candidate to become viable, they can leave, or they can join another group – choosing their second-choice candidate.

Republicans do not have this rule in their caucuses. Everyone chooses by secret ballot and there is just one round of voting.

With the opportunity for supporters of a non-viable candidate to then choose a second-choice candidate to support, the caucus becomes a strategy for those in the lead. Most will agree that a candidate’s biggest supporter at a caucus is the precinct captain and that it is in the candidate’s best interest to arm the captain with a strategy for winning over the second-choice votes.

As an example, for the Iowa caucus, Clinton’s camp gave local precinct captains cards that outlined arguments targeted to supporters of each of the candidates who might be eliminated. They advised captains to “put yourself in their shoes” and imagine what it would feel like to have your first-choice eliminated from the caucus. Then they were to pitch a positive message.

Obama’s campaign provided its local precinct captains with lists of likely caucus-goers who had named Obama as a 2nd choice candidate. They were to then make a face-to-face pitch for their vote as second-choice.

In the case of the democratic caucus, being nice and being positive is a strategy that can win the votes of those who must realign, and it has served well for many candidates over the years.

There it is in a nutshell: the craziness of the democratic caucus, what it means to be a viable candidate, and how candidates can win the votes of those whose candidate was eliminated.

~ DC

January 9, 2008

STL Goes to Washington: The primary process

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , at 12:55 pm by Lindsay

Now that primary season is well under way, we’re kicking off a series called “Save the Lobsters Goes to Washington” where along with the political commentary we’ve been dabbling in, we’ll take a closer look at some of the practices and institutions of our electoral process.  A catch-up of sorts for all those things you’ve forgotten from civics class.  We believe that the good voter is the informed voter. 

As I was discussing the results of last night’s New Hampshire primary with my sister, we realized how little we actually know about the primary election process.  What’s the difference between a caucus and a primary?  Who are the delegates and how are they chosen?  What’s a superdelegate?  First, we have to remember that elections are facilitated by the individual states, and therefore, different states have different rules about how presidential candidates are selected. 

Caucus vs. Primary

A caucus can be thought of as a big group meeting for members of the same political party.  Issues and candidates are openly discussed and debated, after which attendees express their choice of candidate.  In Iowa, caucus-goers stand in the corner of the room which represents their candidate.  Other caucuses allow attendees to choose by secret ballot. 

In contrast, a primary is similar to the general election where voters simply cast a ballot for the candidate they support.  Primaries may be open, (where voters can vote for either a Republican OR a Democratic candidate) closed, (where voters can vote for a candidate only from the party they’re registered as), or blanket (where voters can vote for a candidate from each party).

Delegate This!

Delegates are people chosen to represent their state at the party’s national convention.  In most Democratic primaries, candidates win a percentage of that state’s delegates based on the percentage of votes they won from the voters.  In Republican primaries, delegates are usually awarded on the “Winner Take All” principal, where the winner of the primary receives all of that state’s delegates, no matter what percentage of votes they garnered. 

Superdelegates are usually party officials or members that act as delegates during the national convention, but do NOT have to support the candidate that won their state’s primary.  Superdelegates from Iowa do not have to support Obama and superdelegates from New Hampshire do not have to support Clinton.  Regular delegates far outnumber superdelegates.   

I’m often puzzled by our electoral system, so hopefully we can continue to shed light on the murkier parts of our democratic process.  Anyone else is welcome to contribute whatever insight or knowledge you might have!  Also, if you have any topics or questions you’ve always wondered about, let us know and we’ll try to address them. 

For my research, I consulted this article from BBC News:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7049207.stm

and this one from CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/01/02/delegate.explainer/index.html

Happy Polling!

~LA

December 7, 2007

A Question of Dynasty?

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , at 2:57 pm by Katelyn

Have you thought about the fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected as our next President, we will have had either a Bush or a Clinton in the White House for over two decades? This topic was brought to Hillary’s attention at the recent NPR debate. The question, however, was phrased around the word dynasty. As part of her answer, she said, “It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush.”  (I love this quote!)

It is rather interesting, though, in a country whose government is based on change, new perspectives, and fresh ideas, that we would keep coming back to representatives of the same two families to run our country. Perhaps Hillary is right in that it takes someone with a mindset like the Clintons’ to fix all the problems that someone with the intelligence of a Bush creates, but it is still fascinating to me. Of course nothing has been decided yet, and the idea of a dynasty could end with the 2008 election of someone other than Hillary, but with the way things are looking, this is a very viable topic.

Do these two families really represent the majority of Americans? Is experience, in Hillary’s case, more important to the public than a real change? Does this negatively affect the democratic process that was designed for our country so long ago?

~ A Ponderous DC

November 21, 2007

Outrage!

Posted in Politics tagged , , at 8:37 pm by Lindsay

Is anyone else as outraged as I am about the “beat the bitch” question a McCain supporter asked him???  To me that signals a total lack of respect and a cheap shot at the first credible female presidential candidate.  To me, it’s just as bad as asking how we “beat the (insert derogatory racial label here)” when referring to Obama and Richardson.  And to top it off, it infuriates me that the speaker was a woman.  Has she no self-respect???  Am I overreacting? 

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