Sunday, November 30, 2008

Today's Sermon #5

Originally uploaded by Randuwa

In heaven,
Some little blades of grass
Stood before God.
“What did you do?”
Then all save one of the little blades
Began eagerly to relate
The merits of their lives.
This one stayed a small way behind, Ashamed.
Presently, God said,
“And what did you do?”
The little blade answered, “O my lord,
Memory is bitter to me,
For, if I did good deeds,
I know not of them.”
Then God, in all His splendour,
Arose from His throne.
“O best little blade of grass!” He said.

~ Stephen Crane, 1871 - 1900

Art I'm Seeing #33

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The National Gallery of Art has a couple of new major exhibitions for the holiday season. "Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered" is an expansive retrospective of the works of this Rembrandt contemporary and friend.

Unusual in its compliment of drawings and prints along with oil paintings, the show really gives you a broad perspective on Meister Lieven's talents. He worked in the shadow of the master, and his works reflect the status of a junior partner.

Excelling in the depiction of the portrait and the face, its attachment to the rest of the human form is at times more awkward. Clumsy in the details does not mean without genius. However, it does explain why Jan Lievens has remained undiscovered for so long.

The show has venues in Milwaukee and Amsterdam -- catch it if you can.

What I'm Watching #175

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Not much of one to see movies in theaters these days, I've finally joined the rest of the human race by seeing Disney/Pixar's "Wall-E." What can I add to the chorus of praise? Beep, urp, rup, urp, zzzziiz, zizzzz. Whooooooooooosh!

The thing that DVD's offer that movies don't is the range of extra features. The joy of this film's cadre is the in-depth look at the history of sound effects.

All in all, a wonderful movie.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What I'm Reading #12

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
When Sarah Vowell isn't providing voice-overs for some Pixar classic, or performing her concierge duties on "This American Life," she's writing about the foibles and miracles of American history.

"The Wordy Shipmates" tells the tale of the settling of New England. The book reads with the familiar cadences of her radio commentaries. Her ability to bounce between history and her story enlivens the narrative, which is a dense telling of our puritan founders. There are often more insightful observations in the things she doesn't tell us; and that's her gift to the reader: a trust in our ability to make meaning out of the "Roads Not Taken."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Random Quote #97

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever."

~ Margaret Cho, 1968 -

Thanksgiving 2008 Dame Fortuna

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
It's hard to turn on the radio or the TV and not find some one declaring what it is for which they are thankful. After all, it is Thanksgiving!

So here's my 2 ¢ for this year: I'm thankful for Fate.

Last evening I found myself on the #16 Ride On Metro Bus on my way to retrieve my car from the auto shop, when this article flashed before my eyes. Only a month earlier, on another #16, 14-year-old Tai Lam was accidentally shot to death by a member of the Latino gang MS-13.

In the back of the bus I was riding on was a group of young African American males talking up shit with lots of "fucks" and "nigga's" and laughter while two young women giggled and shot them glances of disbelief, flirtation, and faux-shock.

I sat behind the driver and across from me were an elderly black woman and a young Hispanic woman with a baby girl in her arms. Half a dozen assorted brown skinned men and women sat around the middle of the bus holding shopping bags, a valise or two, a cane.

Within moments the bus was well past Quebec Terrace and the crime scene. It lumbered up Piney Branch and near a set of formerly public housing apartments, the two young women in the back of the bus rose to exit. As they did they turned to the young men and said, "Please, be safe."

I'm sure when the teenaged son of Vietnamese immigrants got on this bus, he felt safe. He'd taken the bus a gazillion times before. But that night, it was his fate to be first a witness to an argument between rival gang members and then their latest victim.

Fate is not a collective experience no matter how much we work together to achieve a goal. We each ultimately find our life's path to be filled with it's own fortunes, it's only tragedies. Wednesday's bus ride reminded me how diverse and how capricious fate can be.

And even with the sadnesses that have from time to time found their way into my life, thus far, my fate has been benevolent, unremarkable, and fortunate. And on this “Turkey Day” I am thankful for it.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lego Factory Series #6

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Lego strikes again!

This model of the Taj Mahal is simply and utterly amazing. It took me three days to construct. In the end I had some bricks left over that I probably should have used somewhere in the model!

But it's really a wonderful addition to their model line.

Bravo, Lego!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Far The Mighty Have Fallen...

Our Latest American Hero #127

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Army Spc. William J. McClellan, 22, of New Castle, Ind. died Nov. 6 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. from wounds sustained in January of 2008 as a result of an IED. He was a member of Alpha Company, 502nd Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky.

"Area Soldier Dies From Iraq Injuries"

Army Spc. William Justin McClellan was New Castle native

Heather McClellan thought her husband was recovering from the injuries he suffered in January when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Maybe, she thought, he'd even be home for Christmas.

But Army Spc. William Justin McClellan, 22, a New Castle native who grew up in Indianapolis, died Nov. 6 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

An Army spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his injuries had not been considered life-threatening and the cause of his death is under investigation.

"It's a shock to everybody," his wife said. "I talked to him on the 5th, and he was fine. He just had not been feeling well and had developed a few staph infections. But he was fine."

Their second wedding anniversary would have been Dec. 27.

McClellan is the 109th soldier with Indiana ties to be killed in the war in Iraq.

The infantryman, based in Fort Campbell, Ky., and a member of Alpha Company, 502nd Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was critically injured in January in a roadside explosion.

Except for a brief trip for a family funeral, his wife said, he had not been out of the hospital.

The couple lived in Clarksville, Tenn., and he will be buried in Tennessee.

Recent news reports have indicated a high suicide rate among soldiers, but without being asked, Heather McClellan volunteered in a telephone interview that this was not the case with her husband.

"He wouldn't have done that. I know my husband," she said. "He was a fighter, and he would never have given up on anything."

The Army's system of long-term care for wounded soldiers has struggled to keep up with the surge of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a wounded Indiana sergeant's fatal prescription drug overdose at Fort Knox, Ky., in 2007, the Army found shortcomings in leadership there and a staff stretched too thin. Problems uncovered at Walter Reed in 2007 were so bad that the secretary of the Army resigned, but officials have taken steps since then to improve conditions.

Born in New Castle, McClellan attended Howe High School in Indianapolis before joining the military and passing his general educational development test.

His parents, Arthur and Lisa McClellan, live in Indianapolis, as do several other family members.

"He loved fishing, music. He loved the outdoors," Heather McClellan, an Illinois native, said about her husband. "He was an adrenaline junkie to the fullest. His family and friends will dearly miss him."

McClellan received a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantry Badge for his actions in Iraq.

His wife said he was driving in a convoy Jan. 10 when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb.

"There were several trucks that had passed over it, but it just so happened when his truck passed, it detonated," Heather McClellan said.

She said her husband steered the truck to safety, and no other soldiers suffered serious injuries.

"When they were taking care of him on the field, he had told his guys to hold his place because he'd be back in two weeks," she said. But his injuries, which she described as shrapnel damage to the head, hand and foot, were more serious than he realized.

McClellan was born Oct. 20, 1986. Besides his wife and parents, he is survived by brothers Arthur, Gregory and Trevor McClellan and Donald Schmitz and sister Tonya Schmitz, Indianapolis; maternal grandparents Charles Foster III and Vinda Foster, Indianapolis; and maternal great-grandparents Charles Foster II and Barbara Foster, Attica.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2008 Post-Election Senatorial Up-date #1

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The November 4th election left 3 races for the U.S. Senate's 111th session unanswered. Today only 2 races remain contested.

On his 85th birthday, Republican Senator Ted Stevens received the gift of retirement. Fair the well Mr. Felon. Anchorage Mayor, Marc Begich will be Alaska's junior senator. That's Marc Begich and NOT Sarah Palin. Thank the gods of the aurora borealis for such gifts.

Minnesota and Georgia remain open questions, both will be revealed by mid-December. Both remain too close to call.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Unsolicited Advice

Obama's people have indicated that they will appoint a Republican to the cabinet. Speculation swirls around retiring Senator Chuck Hagle of Nebraska. I would suggest a re-think. I would propose Governor Arnold Schwartznagger of California to the post of Secretary of Transportation. And then rather than bury him in the back bench cloud of irrelevancy that our current Secretary of Transportation (can you name him/her?) resides in -- elevate the post as part of a "Rebuild America" campaign. This would be brilliant, and Arnold is up to the task.

Mary E. Peters.

Er, she's the current holder of this office. Who knew?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Today's Sermon #4

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The image is of Ngo Tien Doan of Viet Nam, an international male model and Mr. Gay Universe 2008.


Some keep the Sabbath going to Church—
I keep it, staying at Home—
With a Bobolink for a Chorister—
And an Orchard, for a Dome—

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice—
I just wear my Wings—
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton—sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman—
And the sermon is never long,

So instead of getting to Heaven, at last—
I'm going, all along.

~ Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886

What I'm Watching #174

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"3-Day Weekend" is a film about 8 gay men who meet for a long weekend at a "cabin" in the mountains. Three are longtime friends. Two of these are a longtime couple. The other has a relatively new and young companion. Each of these four invite a friend to join them.

The results make for a very authentic and enjoyable film. I really liked this one.

What I'm Listening To #43

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"'Til We Outnumber 'Em" is a recording from a concert held in the honor of the songs of Woody Gurthrie which took place at the Museum of Rock and Roll in Cleveland, Ohio in 1996. Between songs we hear quotes from Woody and testimonials from others. The musicians include: Billy Bragg, Ani DiFranco, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Arlo Guthrie, the Indio Girls, David Pirner, Tim Robbins, and Bruce Springsteen.

This ought to be required listening in every 5th grade curriculum in the United States. It ought to be shared between the Music, Social Studies and English teachers. Not since the prolific catalogue of music produced by Stephen Collins Foster, has America seen a voice so pure and so rampant after what it is to be American.

This collection of artists does Woody proud, and this work is simply "must experience CD." These songs resonate with such a powerful and clarion message of what it means to be alive in this day, in our age--nigh on 42 years after his death. The artists' interpretations demonstrate the universality of Woody's vision and gift.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Presidential Race 2008 #21 (Results)

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
After 20 weeks of Saturday maps with polls, it seemed fitting to post a final map depicting the relative strength of the results. I waited a week for Missouri (and still it's not settled). But I will give it to McCain. And with that in mind, here are the states and their relative strength of support for their chosen candidate.

"Weakly" falls within the pollster's margin of error and here means 1.1% to 4.5%, "Moderately" little more than doubles this and goes from 4.6% to 9.5%. and "Strongly" represents 9.6% and everything above.

The Top Five Democratic States by margin of victory were:

The District of Columbia 86.4%
Hawai'i 45.2%
Vermont 37.2%
Rhode Island 27.8%
Massachusetts 25.8%

The Top Five Republican States by margin of victory were:

Wyoming 32.5%
Oklahoma 31.4%
Utah 28.7%
Idaho 25.4%
Alaska 25.2%

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #10

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
New Hampshire is the final "Captured" state from the Republican to the Democratic column. And it's the only state in which every single county went for Obama/Biden.

Add to this the defeat of an incumbent Republican Senator, and the maintenance of both House seats from their 2006 surprise victories over incumbent Republicans, and one is apt to believe that the last bastion of REDness in New England is now decidedly blue.

What I'm Watching #173

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Half A Person" is a Canadian film about two best friends who have found something essential in one another even though they couldn't be more different in many respects. One is gay, on straight. One is in a relationship, one is a virgin. One is trying to grow up, and one is desperately trying to remain an irresponsible adolescent.

For a low budget film, it's ambitious. The acting and writing more than compitent.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #09

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Iowa is the first state where more counties went for the Democrats than the Republicans (52 of the 98 counties). Counties with Universities went for Obama, counties with larger Catholic populations went for Obama, counties with concentrations of Hispanic voters went for Obama.

And the lion share of non-Democratic majority counties went Republican in a tepid way. The end result being a 10 % popular vote spread for the Democrats.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #08

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
North Carolina is the next to last state in this series that was taken out of the Republican column this time around and placed in the Democratic side of the leger.

And it is also the real "squeeker" of a victory in this election; Obama won by only point 4 tenths of a percent. And in a state like New Mexico that margin might have triggered an automatic chorus for recall, but in North Carolina with thrice the population, .4 % of the vote does equal 13,692 votes -- a number that actually exceeds the total voting populace in 28 of the 100 counties in the Tar Heel state on this past November 4th.

Where did the votes come from? 1) Urban areas across the state, 2) university and college towns, 3) African American population centers, and 4) military epicenters. The area around Fort Bragg went heavily for the Democratic ticket.

Given the closeness of the end result, the suppression of the strong Republican vote in at least 20 counties also helped to solidify this historic win. What dampened GOP spirits or convinced Republican voters to stay at home or vote Democratic will be the subject of some other soul's Ph. D., but certainly the lively Senatorial and Gubenatorial races didn't hurt. In the end BOTH down ticket candidates prevailed, too. Everywhere the Republicans seemed desperate, angry, spiteful, mean-spirited, and self-serving. How can such candidates expect to prevail?

What are the prospects of North Carolina remaining Blue? To quote the last Democratic Lion in the White House, "It's the Economy Stupid". IF, President Obama and his team can bring hope translated into relief, then Republican's can only hope that their party's biggest concern is whether or not "rename" themselves.

And so I give exception to all of my audacious hopes in Obama over to the precidence of restoring our sound economic footing. Perhaps, I have just articulated the essence of hope behind his victory in North Carolina.

Random Quote #96

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"Love is not enough. It must be the foundation, the cornerstone - but not the complete structure. It is much too pliable, too yielding."

~ Bette Davis, 1908 - 1989

Clever Sidewalk Chalk Art

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Julian Beever's beautiful perspective bending chalk art.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #07

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Nevada's description as a swing state was greatly exaggerated in the final analysis. And while only 3 counties voted majority Democratic, the difference in population numbers gave Obama Nevada's 5 EC Votes with a margin of 12.4%. Obama won Nevada by a greater margin than McCain took his home state of Arizona.

Another way to look at the map is to consider Eureka County in the center right of the map. Dark red and having voted in favor of the Republicans by 75.1% of the vote (the greatest support of any of Nevada's counties for the Republican ticket). However, only 745 people voted in Eureka country all together, or 0.07% of the total number of voters in Nevada. Furthermore, compared to 2004, not a single Nevada county voted at higher rates for the Republicans, they all voted at higher rates for the Democrats on November 5th.

It would seem that Nevada is trending toward California and away from Utah.....

The New Yorker

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Strikes again!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Go Girl!

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The December 2nd (I know, magazine's are fucked up over dates) issue of "The Advocate" sports a cover that declares Rachel Maddow the smartest person on TV. Well, she has been the smartest person on radio for years, so .... duh.

Congrats Rachel! You are one of my most beloved heros.

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #06

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I love analyzing this sort of data.

The 6th state in this series is the land of the "hanging chads" from 2000. And like Ohio, Florida is a symbolic victory for the Democratic Party.

This win is rooted in a cornucopia of constituencies. The Hispanic hegemony of Hialeah and southeastern Dade and Broward counties, the Jewish vote in both that region and greater Tampa Bay area; the youth vote in university cities like Gainesville (University of Florida) and Tallahassee (Florida State University). And who's to say how significant the elder-American vote was given the fall of value in retirement plans due to the economic crisis?

The interesting coloration on the map to me is how deeply Republican the northern teir appears to be; but even there, there were notable trends. In both Pensacola and even more especially Jacksonville, the Democratic vote surpressed the Republican margin of victory to the point that the numbers in counties like Gadsden, Allachua, Flagler, Volusia and Monroe made a greater impact on the outcome.

The margin of victory of 2.5% percent or 204,577 votes might not seem all that significant, but by comparison, it's only 12,500 votes less than the ENTIRE voting population of Alaska, dontcha know.

Monday, November 10, 2008

God Just Might Have A Reason

Originally uploaded by Randuwa Bless America.

I love this image and never thought I'd live to see it. At 47, I now cannot image what awaits my limited imagination into the future.

My parents lived from childhoods were automobiles were amazing contraptions to men walking on the moon. And I have lived to see the beauty and tenacity of the American dream reach a new height and more profound integrity. that I love.

Best Day Ever!

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #05

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
State #5 in this strand is Indiana. The Democratic victory in the Hoosier state represents the longest single shot of the campaign. Virtually every county in the state voted more Democratic than it did in the previous election, even if only 15 of the 49 counties were majority Democratic.

Counties with large African American populations like Marion (Indianapolis), and Lake (Gary) continued their strong support for Democratic candidates. And the second area of noteable support came from counties with University's: Vigo (Terra Haute, Indiana State University), Tippecanoe (Lafayette, Perdue), and Monroe (Bloomington, Indiana University).

This win was actually foreshadowed by the 2004 election with the House delegation shifted from 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats to 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans. A margin that remained steady with this election. And in a final nod, Indiana becomes the second state to elect a Muslim to the House of Representatives, by electing André Carson the son of the late great congress woman, Julia Carson.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Today's Sermon #3

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
[One of the major perks to being an elementary school teacher is entering a building each day full of the most amazing works of art, by some of the most amazing artists in the world.]


I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us—don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

~ Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #04

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
My biggest regret about the outcome in the Centennial state is that my dearest cousin, J, didn't live to see this day. He died from the complications of Lou Gehrig's disease in mid-May of this year. J. embodied that mythical spirit of the Rockies, and I know doubt would have delighted from his pithy and to-the-point insights. J., RIP.

In spite of a last minute rally in Colorado, McCain lost this state. And here's one of the reasons why: Early Voting. You can fly in at the last minute to rally the troops, but if 35% of your potential troops have already cast their votes, your rally's only 2/3's as potential effective as it otherwise might have been. Coloradoans are not only one among 22 states with this option; they took full advantage of it this time around.

When Obama's last set of rally's in the state (Denver & Colorado Springs) brought out nearly 200,000 people, while the next day, McCain could scarcely scare up 3,000 in Denver; I knew the dye was cast in this rocky mountain paradise.

Yet the map shows some really interesting and dramatic results. It's sort of like a squishy sandwich with the Dems in the middle. 10 counties (the most sparsely populated in the state) went for McCain to the tune of 70% or more, and 5 supported Obama at the same rate.

The ten Republican strongholds are among the most isolated in the state. In fact, the eastern block is split in both the northern most reach and in the south and in both instances, major interstates run through the neighboring counties where the margin of victory is lessened. I won't try to over analyze this, but it would seem that contact with the outside world of a human nature (everyone has access to the world via TV) makes some difference.

The Democratic strongholds include the cities of Denver, Bolder, Aspen, and Telluride. Costilla County is the only one who's extreme results lack an urban nexus. And perhaps that's the last word on Colorado: Hispanic turnout and their near 80% Democratic support. Si Se Puedemos! And, “Yes, We DID”.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Winter's Approaching

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
I think I need a new hat....

The DIFFERENCE....The Real Difference

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The world is so excited, energized, and even epileptic about the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States, and I'm thrilled by each and every expression of emotion.

Russia and Iran have acted like frightened children, China and North Korea, like hopeful suitors. And in other places, the reactions have been down right idiosyncratic.

IRELAND: Obama has a village and a song

“Tiny Irish Village Is Latest Place To Claim Obama As Its Own”

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, Democratic candidate for president, is the talk of this village because recently unearthed records indicate that he is a son of Moneygall.

Stephen Neill, a local Anglican rector, said church documents he has found, along with census, immigration and other records tracked down by U.S. genealogists, appear to show that Obama's great-great-great-grandfather, Fulmuth Kearney, was reared in Moneygall, then left for America in 1850, when he was 19.

So inspite of the fact that there is no apostrophe in Obama, as in O'Leary or O'Hara, this small village in Ireland claims the president-elect is a descendant.

Moneygall is a town of 300 on the road between Dublin and Limerick, and because Barack Obama's great, great, great grandfather was born there, hopes for an onslaught of American tourism.

During the campaign, Obama did tell an Irish interviewer that he looked forward to going there and having a pint. There are two pubs in Moneygall, as opposed to the two per address they have in Chicago.

A welcome song has already been written: "O'Leary, O'Reilly, O'Hare and O'Hara, there's no one as Irish as Barack Obama."

KENYA: Obama get a national holiday!

“Kenya Has Declared Thursday A Public Holiday To Celebrate The Election Of Barack Obama To The US Presidency”

Mr Obama's father was from Kenya and his victory has prompted jubilation across the country.

"We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots," President Mwai Kibaki said.

ANTIGUA: Obama gets a Mountain

“Antigua Wants To Rename Highest Peak 'Mount Obama'”

Antigua's prime minister wants to rename the island's highest mountain peak "Mount Obama" in honor of the U.S. president-elect.

"Boggy Peak," as it is currently known, soars more than 1,300 feet (396 meters) over the island's southern point and serves as a transmission site for broadcast and telecommunication providers. It also is a popular hiking spot.

Political analyst Avel Grant says the name change could draw more tourists to the island.

Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer announced the plans Wednesday in a congratulatory letter to President-elect Obama.


And out-going President Bush can't even get a book deal.....

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #03

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The Bluing of Ol' Virginny, is a tale that began in earnest two years ago with the election of a Democratic governor (Tim Kane) replacing a democratic governor (Mark Warner), and the election of a strong, centrist Democratic Senator (Jim Webb) to replace a religious conservative (and self-exposed racist) senator (George Allen).

This time it moves into a higher gear with the resounding defeat of another Republican religious conservative and former governor (Jim Gilmore) in favor of freshman senator Mark Warner. Senator elect Warner won with margins usually reserved for popular incumbents.

In this atmosphere, enter the campaign machine of Barack Obama. Much speculation was given to the loyalties and leanings of various constituencies in this election; none, perhaps, more so than the military. And one thing is absolutely for certain, Virginia is a military state. Home to the largest military port on the Atlantic Ocean as well as the U. S. Marine headquarters in Quantico. Areas of the state with concentrated military populations voted overwhelming for Obama.

Add to this a solid Democratic majority in the suburban Washington, D.C. northeastern portion of the state, and you've only one other major population center in Virginia to dominate: the capital, Richmond. Obama took Richmond by 79.2% and the sister city of Petersburg by 88.6%!

Finally, looking at the map you see a lot of red, especially in the west and southwestern regions of the state. But appearances are deceiving. Virginia, unlike any other state in the union, shares local jurisdiction between a system of county and city governments. They operate as separate entities, with the cities often representing the lion share of the population within the county area. There are approximately 35 city jurisdictions, and Obama captured victories in 80% of these population centers. A sampling includes:

Harrisonburg with 57.5%
Danville with 59.2%, and
Roanoke with 61.2 %

These victories are in no small part the result of a great ground game to get out the vote, and in cases like Harrisonburg, the home of James Madison University, a strong youth vote.

In the Old Dominion state, everything came together to deliver to the Democrats a state that has not gone Democratic in a presidential election since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

In a final thought about this year in Virginia, the delegation to the House of Representatives has also seen quite an amazing shift to majority Democratic. The Democrats picked up 3 seats (one open and two by defeating incumbents). The shift means that instead of 8 Republicans and 3 Democrats; there will be 6 Democrats with 5 Republicans. And neither of the defeated Republicans was on anyone's shortlist as being vulnerable.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #02

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
State #2 in this series of commentaries is New Mexico.

For the past 6 weeks prior to Tuesday's election it tracked for the Democrats, and the Democrats cautiously wanted to believe the polls. In 2000, the Democrats captured the state's 5 Electoral votes with a margin of victory in the popular election of 366 votes. In 2004, Bush prevailed in the state.

Trends being what they are, the question of New Mexico's political heart was in question. Add to that a growing Hispanic minority, a neglected Native American constituency, and a younger voting age populace; and the state seemed a true battleground -- not simply for the candidates, but for the ideological future of this nation.

In the days leading up to the election, leading pollsters presented the following results:

Albuquerque Journal - 45% for Obama, 40% for McCain, 15% undecided

Rasmussen - 54% for Obama, 44% for McCain, 2% undecided

Survey USA - 52% for Obama, 45% for McCain, 3% undecided

RealClearPolls.Com called it 50% for Obama and 43% for McCain, with 7% of the electorate undecided.

The average spread in these polls was 7.3% in Obama's favor; the actual results were 57% for Obama to 42% for McCain; or a more nuanced spread of 15.1%. A difference that is over twice as large as what polls were showing.

A closer analysis shows a very strong Obama turn out from Hispanics in the "Land of Enchantment". This trending toward the Democrats was even more powerfully expressed in the Congressional races. New Mexico enjoys the standard compliment of 2 Senators with 3 House members. Before November 4th the break down was 60% Republican/40% Democratic. After this election, New Mexico's is 100% Democratic! It joins the ranks of Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island with this distinction.

It would seem New Mexico's fledgling flirtation with the GOP has come to a speedy and decisive halt.

Unholy Alliance

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Aha! Proof, at long last!

I returned home from work this evening to discover yet again a deer in my backyard casually dining. But this time she was not alone.

This time Mr. Cat, a neighbor's free roaming pet, was sitting there just staring at the deer. For her part, the deer seemed to be completely aware of the cat and just as non-plussed by the company.

Who knows what nefarious plot they were hatching? They remained in each others company for a good 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What I'm Listening To #42

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
John Legend's latest CD is utterly addictive.

It transitions through a range of styles and a host of collaborators (including Kanye West & Brandy).

And "If Your Out There" is THE anthem of this generation (Nexters) -- we generation Xers/borderline boomers would do well to catch the groove!

Presidential Election 2008 Redux #01

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
It was supremely ironic, that the state which signaled that the election was OVER, and we had somehow found the courage to elect Barack Obama as our 44th President, was Ohio! That was so lovely. And so where to start?

The landscape in the Buckeye state politically speaking was very different from 2004 in perhaps the most important office regarding elections. Instead of Attorney General Ken Blackwell who was the chair of the Bush re-election campaign in the state and who's deeply twisted and hypocritical religious values contorted his ability to possess even a smidgen of integrity, we have Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers. AG Rogers acted quickly and decisively to oppose Republican efforts to deny legitimate citizens of Ohio the right to vote. And the courts agreed with her position.

You can add to that an economic situation in this nation that has hit the lives of the working class in Ohio as hard as anywhere in this country. And I'd like to think that even the embarrassment of the opportinistic lieing sack of shit known as "Joe the Plumber" may have swayed a few reluctant undecideds to vote against the Republican ticket and their cynical, equally opportunistic tactics.

On the positive side, Obama's grassroots efforts on college campuses and effort to energize the "youth" vote clearly paid dividends in at least one Ohio county, Athens, the home of Ohio University and a southeastern county that voted for Obama to the tune of 66.5% over McCain.

Other notable trends included how resoundingly urban the support for Obama was. And in particular the strong support in Cincinnati. A support that gave Incumbent Republican representative Steve Chabot the boot in favor of Democratic challenger, Steve Dreihaus.

As good as the day was for Democrats in Ohio, it was not perfect. Two house seats remained in Republican hands that I personally supported change in. In her second attempt to unseat radically conservative wacko Jean Schmidt, Dr. Victoria Wulsin came up short. In the 15th district, bordering the western suburbs of Columbus, Mary Jo Kilroy, a long assumed successor to Deborah Price (who actually sited Kilroy's support in the district as a reason for not seeking re-election to a 10th term) ended the night 321 votes behind her Repulican challenger Steve Stivers. The ultimate end of this race may depend on a recount and provisional ballots, but from early on, this race was never suppose to be so close.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Final Thought

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
as I get ready to experience the election results. I'm feeling good about this one.

What I'm Watching #172

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
"True Love" is a collection of short films tied together by their writer/director, Michael J. Saul. The themes run a range of topics that stab at various aspects of Gay male life. The actors worked for free, though most of them know how to act. The vinettes fail, by and large, to engage the viewer; they are more like a film student's final project than theatrical videos.

Not worth extending too much effort to see.

The Day Of Reckoning

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
The pollsters' final words before We The People have our say. The average gives Obama 345 Electoral College Votes to McCain's 193.

The states that wink on and off blue and red among the 8 polls listed here include: Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. With all the talk of swing states and toss-ip states, it's perhaps surprising that only 5 find swing status in these final polls. Also interesting is their frequency of being on one candidate's side versus the other:

Florida ~ 7 times for Obama, 1 time for McCain
Ohio ~ 7 times for Obama, 1 time for McCain
Missouri ~ 4 times for Obama, 4 times for McCain
North Carolina ~ 3 times for Obama, 5 times for McCain
Indiana ~ 1 time for Obama, 7 times for McCain

So get out and VOTE, if you already haven't.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Powerful Message

Sunday Newspaper Round-Up

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Snippets from various newspaper around the country on Sunday, two days before this historic election.

Arizona Republic News [ARIZONA]

“Two days before the election, John McCain is behind in every national poll and in polls in nearly every swing state. Barring an unforeseen incident or a well-hidden trove of voters in key states across the country, the Republican Arizona senator appears headed for defeat.”

Denver Post [COLORADO]

“Democrat Barack Obama has solidified his base and picked up a majority of unaffiliated voters in Colorado, giving him a 5 percentage point lead over Republican John McCain, according to a new Denver Post poll.”

Orlando Sentinel [FLORIDA]

“With 48 hours until Election Day and candidates swarming the state like mosquitoes, a new Orlando Sentinel poll suggests that the race for president in Florida remains too close to call.”

Evansville Courier & Press [INDIANA]

“Harold Greenwell feels as if he is shouting and no one can hear him. "People are so easy to forget Sept. 11, 2001," Greenwell said, frustration creeping into his voice. "I know the economy is the issue right now, but if we're attacked by the terrorists again, money will be the least of your worries." The Greenwells believe John McCain understands the nature of the terrorist threat.”

Des Moines Register [IOWA]

“Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has strengthened his advantage in The Des Moines Register's Iowa Poll, establishing a commanding lead over Republican John McCain heading into Tuesday's election.”

New Orleans Times Picayune [LOUISIANA]

“Counting down to Election Day, Barack Obama appears within reach of becoming the nation's first black president as the epic campaign draws to a close against a backdrop of economic crisis and lingering war.”

Baltimore Sun [MARYLAND]

“With polls showing Barack Obama ahead in the final hours of the '08 contest, John McCain faces daunting odds if he is to pull off what his own camp says would be an historic comeback.”

Columbia Tribune [MISSOURI]

“There is an issue of intensity versus numbers here,” said George Connor, a political science professor at Missouri State University. “It’s not about convincing undecided voters. I can’t imagine there are too many people still undecided. It’s about turning out the base.”

Manchester Union Leader [NEW HAMPSHIRE]

“If you believe recent election polls, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is ahead in New Hampshire by 25 ... by 18 ... by 11 ... by 5 4.
“Or maybe not at all -- if you factor in the margin of error.”

Clovis News Journal [NEW MEXICO]

“The CNJ polled 20 fifth-graders at James Bickley Elementary School on the presidential election.

• 5 voted for John McCain

• 15 voted for Barack Obama”

Raleigh The News & Observer [NORTH CAROLINA]

“The Democrats campaign is culminating in an anormous door-by-door effort. North Carolina is one of its key targets.”
“The results are already showing a lopsided turnout by Democrats... The scale of the operation had left even some Republicans impressed.”

Columbus Dispatch [OHIO]

“The final Dispatch Poll shows the Illinois Democrat with a 6-point lead in Ohio, virtually identical to the 7-point advantage he held a month ago.”

Portland Tribune [OREGON]

“A new Portland Tribune/Fox 12 poll suggests Oregon voters will hand Democrat Barack Obama the state’s largest victory margin of any presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 landslide over Barry Goldwater.”

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Presidential Race 2008 #20

Originally uploaded by Randuwa
Five months of poll watching, and it comes down to this.