Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Understanding “American Values” and the Culture of Stupid

From its origins, the United States has suggested that it is a unique, exceptional country that can serve as a beacon of truth for other nations aspiring for greatness. This concept of “exceptionalism” began with our example of democracy yet over time has converted into a general ethic or idea that everything “American” is great and everything outside of America is less so. Frequently, from politicians both on the left and right, we hear about how America is the best country on earth (or in history) and how said politician will restore America’s greatness.

How so, then, can it be true that the US ranks 37th in the world in health care, behind the likes of Costa Rica, Chili, and Colombia? How can we rank 15th in the world in reading literacy, 19th in mathematical literacy, and 14th in scientific literacy? How is it that the whole concept of the “American dream” is no longer American at all since upward mobility in the US is essentially impossible? How is it that we just took down the global economy through our own gambling, no regulation ways? How can it be possible that we are anything BUT exceptionally bad at most of our core endeavors?

The answers to all of these questions is easier than one would think. In short, we, as a culture, glorify stupidity. Turn on MTV (likely the dominant influence on adolescent and young adult minds) and you will see show after show where stupidity is rewarded. In fact, as a culture, we worship those who drink the most, shag the most, cheat the most, hit the hardest, run the fastest, act the best, sing the best, or some combination of all rather than those who work the hardest, invent amazing things, or write great works of literature. For better or worse, our culture has developed into one enormous drunk, violent, fucking orgasm that looks good at all times and lies about its behavior at all times. These are the values we worship, these are the values we inculcate, these are the values that the world sees. And one wonders why we are falling behind.

Take the issue of France as an example. France has, beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt, the best health care system in the world. They also live longer, have a 35-hour work week, 6 weeks mandatory vacation for all employees, low pollution, low cost and high quality internet and other public services, among other benefits. Yet instead of looking to their example, we criticize, castigate, and ridicule. To be “French” is an insult in the US.

And it’s not just France. There are many countries which do things much better than we do and instead of learning from those examples, we ignore them or scorn them. This is the culture of stupid. It is a culture that will spell the doom of the United States as a world leader. And it is a culture that must change.

Education is a policy issue which receives great attention and money and yet we seem to slip further and further behind. Back In the 90s we had the computer generation of expenditures. Billions of dollars spent to modernize our classrooms. Didn’t matter. We continued to slide. Then Bush came in and said we need more standardized testing and achievable benchmarks. Nope, that didn’t work either. Now, with an election a week away and both candidates essentially repeating the same spiel about education, we’re likely to see the “Train Teachers Better” movement. Here’s a little prediction that shouldn’t shock anyone (but just might): That ain’t gonna work either.

This whole “Stupid is Better” movement culminated with the election of George Bush as president. No, I don’t think he’s a moron. I think he’s willfully uninformed and undereducated. And when you have someone who is not only uninformed and uneducated about critical issues (like National Security and Foreign policy) you have a tendency to act on what sounds good but may or may not be good. In essence, the entire Bush Doctrine and the last 8 years of foreign policy lies at the feet of the slick sales job Bush got from the neocons around him and his own inability or reluctance to seek alternate views, sift through the bullshit, or use a shred of common sense.

Unless and until we address the culture of stupid that dominates America’s airwaves (MTV, Fox News, this means you), unless and until we provide role models and heroes to America’s youth that can be examples of how hard work and an education can pay off (no Charles Barkley, you don’t count since you didn’t finish school but you are right and have always been right about the role model issue), and unless and until parents imprint upon their children the value of hard work, discipline, and intellectual achievement, we will continue on down the path of ignorance and irrationality and the hatred, racism, and bigotry that usually follows such things.
This essay, in essence, is one of the reasons why I support Barack Obama for President. He’s thoughtful, he’s smart as a whip, and he’s prone to listening to various views on complex subjects during crisis. All of these traits are the kinds of things you want in a president.

None of these things are possessed by the dogmatic, reactionary, and ultimately quick tempered John McCain. The latest Socialism screed is the most telling example of an appeal to stupid. The most “socialist” part of the tax code, the part that directly redistributes wealth from the rich to the poor is the Earned Income Credit which was introduced by…drum roll…Ronald Reagan. Sarah Palin herself, the loudest speaker 0n the corner, directly benefits from wealth redistribution every year when her windfall oil dividend is deposited in her bank account courtesy of the State of Alaska. Yet the media doesn’t want to talk about that. The media seems to like it when stupid is as stupid does. They seem to prefer a world in which a litany of lies can replace facts and never be challenged. And it’s not just Fox News. It’s CNN and others who give credence to this climate of dishonesty when, instead of directly attacking and disproving each and every lie, they merely report the “facts” that Palin accused Obama of being a socialist.

And after 8 years of irrational, insane, and idiotic politics, I think America has learned its lesson. At least for now. The pundits haven’t put their finger on this (perhaps they can’t), but I do think that Obama’s meta-narrative of new politics, of intelligent, reasoned policy, and of stoicism in crisis has resonated with the vast majority of the country – and – that’s why he’s going to win this thing going away.

Plus, he makes a hell of a great role model.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Yet another reason why I love me some Barack Obama

This will only really make sense for big football me. But man does the thought of a basketball playing, fantasy football playing, sports fanatic in the Oval Office warm my heart.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

My vote is in

Had to vote in Maryland this year unfortunately for I would have preferred to cast my ballot in the "swing state" of Virginia like in 2004. But I lived in Maryland for about 4 months between 05 and 06 and that was enough to establish residency (renewed my driver's license as well to cement my status as a Maryland resident). Fortunately it looks like Virginia is going strongly for Obama so maybe my vote there wasn't as critical as it was in 04.

Anyway, the Maryland ballot is very long and has a bunch of choices that I know nothing about (judges, board of education, etc). I tried doing some research on those choices but there wasn't much info available online so I went with random stuff. For example, I voted for one dude who has a tendency to speak in the 3rd person. I just think it's funny to say things like, "Henry Le doesn't like it when you speak bad about Henry Le." I also voted for one woman because she was in the Peace Corp and I figure someone who does that can't be too bad.

At any rate, Maryland has a couple ballot measures that are interesting. The first is a measure to authorize early voting and absentee voting. I heartly voted for this one. Early voting is a great idea as far as I'm concerned because it gives people more time to vote. There was a time when I didn't participate in the voting process and to some extent having to vote on a Tuesday was a factor. So I'm all in on early voting.

I voted no on the gambling provision. Apparently the state wants to authorize slot machines which would generate revenue for education. I'm not a fan of gambling provisions because I think that sort of thing is essentially a 2nd tax (or 3rd after the lottery) on the poor who have a tendency to gamble more than the rich and have more to lose by pissing away their hard earned coin. But even beyond that I read somewhere today that for the state to actually see revenue significant enough to impact education the slot "casinos" would have to rake in a billion dollars a year and that's just absurd from where I'm sitting. Bottom line, you wanna gamble in the US, go to Atlantic City, Vegas, or a Native American reservation.

The other two measures were incredibly hard to discipher and I can't say that I really figured them out. One seemed like a procedural measure and the other wanted to guarantee that any change to property tax rates was only passed by unanimous consent (9 out of 9 votes on the County Council) instead of 7 of 9 votes. I voted against that. There are legitimate reasons why counties may need to raise taxes and in my experience there's always one asshole in any machine. Requiring 9 of 9 votes to raise property taxes just risks giving too much power to that one asshole and I really don't see why it's necessary to do that. Of course, I could have misread the entire bit because it wasn't terribly straightforward but that's my version and I'm sticking to it.

One vote for Obama down, 50 million to go.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where stupid found a home

There is a broken link that is preventing me from linking directly to the post in question but if you read the Washington Monthly Blog you will find an October 21, 2008 entry titled, "NewsMax: Not Aware Of All Internet Traditions". The post references an article in Newsmax (a publication which I can only imagine is best used for wiping ass) that explains that an "analysis" of Obama's contributions turns up a lot of odd donations - donations like $20.01 or $50.22, etc, and then goes on to suggest that these are donations in foreign currency and as such are illegal.

Unfortunately for the braintrust that published this article, Washington Monthly points out that when one makes (or made) contributions via websites like Dailykos, Talking Points Memo, and many others, those websites added a certain number of cents to identify where the donation came from. So Dailykos would add .01, Talking Points Memo 0.22, Eschaton 0.18, etc, thus explaining the odd looking donations. A simple internet search could have revealed the great big secret but apparently Kenneth Timmerman was too busy preparing his next hit piece or his next fictional book about WMDs.

Had Timmerman been rather more dedicated to his trade he would have realized an even more basic flaw in his "analysis". Donations accepted via Barak Obama's website or any other website HAVE TO BE IN DOLLARS. I know this because I have made two small contributions in the last 9 months. I didn't pay them in pesos, I paid in dollars, meaning that the fundamental premise of Timmerman's screed is baseless, idiotic, and so 1980s (you know, pre-internet donations). I'll state this again to be as clear as possible: There was no option to charge donations in foreign currency. Foreign currency is not accepted by the Obama campaign. There is no way that any odd looking donation with pennies attached on the end is a donation that originated in foreign currency. In fact, had I used my Colombian credit card, the US Dollar amount would not have changed. What would have changed would have been the amount debited to my card based on the exchange rate at the moment of transaction.

Further, 2 weeks ago I got a call from the Obama campaign. They explained that they needed to confirm my citizenship or they would have to refund my money. To confirm my citizenship, they sent me an email which required me to put my relevant data in and my passport number. The campaign apparently has a huge database with this information and are working hard to make sure every dollar received is legitimate. I was called on a Sunday morning and could hear tons of other people making calls in the background. The campaign is serious about this.

But hey, why do a little reporting (or even critical thinking) when you can just publish smut and get away with it. It's been working for Timmerman all his life, so no need to start worrying about little things like facts, common sense, or you know, journalism.


Friday, October 17, 2008

An incredibly insightful peice about Afghanistan

Rolling Stone does it again. Don't know how they get the best stories but they always do. This time it's a peice from Nir Rosen that has some rather startling conclusions. Very reminiscent of the Failing Drug War peice from a while back. It's pretty long (12 pages), but a quick read and I would say a must read for anyone who wants to know why we have no chance of winning in Afghanistan ever.

Here's the link.

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One reason I love me some Obama

From the New York Times Magazine:

"I am convinced that if there were no Fox News, I might be two or three points higher in the polls," Obama told me. "If I were watching Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me, right? Because the way I’m portrayed 24/7 is as a freak! I am the latte-sipping, New York Times-reading, Volvo-driving, no-gun-owning, effete, politically correct, arrogant liberal. Who wants somebody like that?

"I guess the point I’m making," he went on, "is that there is an entire industry now, an entire apparatus, designed to perpetuate this cultural schism, and it’s powerful. People want to know that you’re fighting for them, that you get them. And I actually think I do. But you know, if people are just seeing me in sound bites, they’re not going to discover that. That’s why I say that some of that may have to happen after the election, when they get to know you."

Originally from Daily Kos.

I have to be honest here. I watched me some Fox News the other night after the debate because CNN International cut off the post-game show a little early. It's pretty evident that Fox News has never been and never will be "News". It's also pretty evident that they employ a gang of morons who are only good at telling lies. I can only hope there is a special place in hell reserved for them.

But even beyond that, is Karl Rove really that stupid? It was the first time I'd seen him live and wow. Craven, amoral, and filthy he is. Intelligent, he is not. Same for Dick Morris (who I know very little about but who was entirely incoherent amidst the spittle). And frankly, former VP Nominee Geraldine Ferraro should be ashamed of herself. By going on Fox, she helps legitimize the organization. If I could, I would dedicate every moment I have to destroying Fox News. Anyone who wants to write me a grant to establish an NGO called "Destroy Fox News", let me know.

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Hey, lookie here...

...this year's Nobel Prize winner in Economics says that now is not the time to freeze spending, it's actually time to jack it up. Go figure. Here are some of the money quotes:

"It’s politically fashionable to rant against government spending and demand fiscal responsibility. But right now, increased government spending is just what the doctor ordered, and concerns about the budget deficit should be put on hold......

....On the other hand, there’s a lot the federal government can do for the economy. It can provide extended benefits to the unemployed, which will both help distressed families cope and put money in the hands of people likely to spend it. It can provide emergency aid to state and local governments, so that they aren’t forced into steep spending cuts that both degrade public services and destroy jobs. It can buy up mortgages (but not at face value, as John McCain has proposed) and restructure the terms to help families stay in their homes.

And this is also a good time to engage in some serious infrastructure spending, which the country badly needs in any case. The usual argument against public works as economic stimulus is that they take too long: by the time you get around to repairing that bridge and upgrading that rail line, the slump is over and the stimulus isn’t needed. Well, that argument has no force now, since the chances that this slump will be over anytime soon are virtually nil. So let’s get those projects rolling."


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The merciful end to the presidential debate season

The debates are over and Obama went 3 for 3. Last night wasn't pretty, but at least it was more lively than the previous two. That's largely because McCain came out foaming at the mouth and went on the attack. Obviously his handlers decided that he needed to paint Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal who wants to take your hard earned dollars and redistribute it to the lazy poor. In other words, back to the future time. That might have worked a few months ago, but I think it's too little too late now. And every single snap poll after the debate showed Obama winning decisively. This thing is a done deal.

That being said, I think that McCain kinda shot himself in his own foot a couple times. Not only did he come across as nasty, angry, and utterly partisan, but he also proposed a number of incredibly stupid things. The icing on the cake, however, was the spending freeze. I'm only going to talk about this because it is utterly ridiculous and shows a contemptous disinterest in history, economic policy, and ultimately, politics.

(Note: To read more about spending in recessions, see this excellent post by Robert Reich.)

Politics: I don't know why McCain thinks a spending freeze would be popular. When Clinton was under fire in the 90s, every State of the Union Address was a laundry list of things he wanted to do, i.e., he wanted to spend money. And Clinton was hugely popular. So on its face, I don't undedrstand this argument.

But more than that, it hamstrings McCain on other issues that he thinks are vital. When McCain said he wanted to "solve autism", Obama hit back with, that will cost money and you're already committed to a spending freeze. Ooops. Frankly, Obama was being polite. He could have said that line a dozen times on pretty much every issue.

Economics: I'm no economist but I'm probably more qualified to "fix" the nation's economic trouble than McCain is. That's because I know what I don't know, I'm open to suggestions in a non-partisan way, and I think we have to look back to see what's worked in the past as a suggestion to what would work now. In that sense, I think I'm quite similar to Obama. So when McCain said "spending freeze" not only did I cringe but I was hoping that Obama would take the Frankenstonian Senator from Arizona to task. Sadly, he did not.

Here's what I've learned over the last couple days by simply reading the internets. First, you can't compare todays deficit to the deficit of 1992. In 92, when Clinton took office, the deficit was about 5% of GDP - in other words, a huge effing problem. But, Clinton sorted it out and GDP contined to rise. Now, even with a higher deficit in absolute dollars, it represents about 3.3% of GDP. This deficit problem we have is not as significant as 92 and that certainly suggests that a spending freeze is not urgent.

Moreover, the US economy is headed into recession (or depression) not out of one. That's another critical difference between 92 and 08. When you come out of recession, you need to control for inflation and deficits are a huge issue. But when you go into recession, governments need to spend money. And I'm really shocked that Obama didn't make this argument. I was expecting him to say that the US government spent its way out of the Great Depression on public works and infrastructure projects and use that as an attack on McCain's spending freeze argument and as a segway to his green jobs and infrastructure proposals. I'm guessing that given McCain's tax-and-spend strategy, Obama didn't want to give any credence to the portrait and held back.

I was going to vote for Obama anyway. Nothing could change that now. But I have to say that McCain's spending freeze argument was, for me, the worst possible thing he could have said. It appeals to the rigid nature of Bushian politics - create an ideology and stand by it no matter what. And I don't think that's what we need now (or probably ever). I expect that this subtle undercurrent, that of Obama appearing thoughtful and open to ideas with McCain coming across as stubborn, beligerent, and hostile to change is one of the reasons why McCain is going down in flames come November.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Hail to the Redskins

In back to back weeks, the Redskins have gone on the road against NFC East rivals, as underdogs, and won in convincing fashion. I got to see most of the Dallas game (power outtage notwithstanding) and all of the Philly game and more than anything, one thing stands out: this team fights hard to win.

After the opening day debacle (thanks schedulers for giving us the Giants, in NY, with a rookie head coach, on the day that the Giants celebrate their Super Bowl victory - really helped us out there), I confess to being fairly pessimistic. But Coach Zorn has turned this around and we have won 4 in a row. We should stretch that winning streak to 7 in a row since our next 3 opponents have a combined record of 1-10 (and the one win coming when the then winless Cleveland defeated the still winless Bengals). Going 7-1 to start the season would essentially guarantee us a playoff spot and would put us in the conversation for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

That being said, I have several lingering concerns:

1. We seem to start slow. After 1 quarter of play in Philly, we were down 14-0. Never mind that the refs gifted Philly 7 points on a punt return that should have been called back. Those things happen in the NFL and we should never have given up that return in the first place. Teams that are serious about winning a championship don't go down 14-0 under any circumstance. And it looks like to me that we are a slow starting team (albeit that I didn't see the Saints or Zona games).

2. Our defensive philosophy has changed and I'm not yet sold on it. We used to blitz and awful lot. Those blitzes resulted in sacks and pressure on the QB. This year, we're playing more of a "prevent the big play" type of defense. That means less blitzing, more coverage, and more containment. It's worked fairly well. The only big plays that we've really given up in the last 4 games have been as a result of mistakes (with rookie safety Horton responsible for 2 of the most visible errors). And we have more or less shut down the run. But in the process, we are giving opposing QBs too much time. Now this should change a bit once Jason Taylor returns from injury, but I worry that our inability to get pressure is going to bite us down the line.

3. Special teams. We've given up 2 punt returns for TDs. We've got a rookie punter who has, so far, been more erratic than Eli Manning. We've gotta get that fixed and now because as we saw last night with Reggie Bush's 2 punt return TDs, teams that have weaknesses on special teams pay a heavy price.

Like I said above, I love the character of this team. They fight to win and it's working. Prior to last week, the Eagles were the top ranked team against the rush, giving up an average of 53 yards a game. We went for 200 (with Portis racking up 145 by himself). They were also the top sack team. Jason Campbell was only sacked once. And, aside from that first drive, we shut down the Eagles attack (one Field Goal the rest of the way by the offense). These things all speak to the character and resilience of this team. And I think these things are going to take us far. But I still worry, more than anything, about our ability to get to the QB.

Looking ahead, I'm not particularly worried about Dallas and Philly at home. I mean, sure, we could lose those games, but I already know that we can beat those teams on the road and being at home should give us some advantages (you just never know in the NFC East). I'm also not worried about St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, Cincy, or San Fran. Really, we should beat all 6 of those teams since they're a combined "Not very good" and we're one of the best teams in the league right now.

I'm also not particularly concerned about our matchup against Baltimore. Yeah, they got a great defense, and yeah, we could lose, but it's not a team I really fear since they've got a rookie QB and suspect players at the skill positions (quick, name their top WR). And as Washington Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache said, falling in love with a rookie is like falling in love with a stripper - eventually, you'll get your heart broken. I'm pretty confident that if we scheme appropriately against that offense, we'll come out ahead in the end (like Tennessee).

No, I'm mostly worried about Pittsburgh and NY. Both teams are extremely physical. Both teams get after the quarterback. Both teams have great skill players. And both teams have shown a particular resilience that makes them tough to beat. Both games are in Washington, so that should help, but I don't know how much. That being said, here's a quickie breakdown:

Pittsburgh - Their defense is great. No question about that. But this team goes where the QB leads it and he's been incredibly good this year, even with injuries. Right now, I think Pittsburgh is probably the third best team in the league behind the Giants and Titans (although the Titans QB situation will eventually hurt them). To beat Pittsburgh, even at home, it's going to take a total effort with minimal mistakes. We can get it done, but I'm very concerned about this game.

NY - The Giants, to some surprise, are without a doubt the best team in the league right now. More than anything it's the combination of their bruising running game, their incredibly effective defensive line, and their cupcake schedule. It also looks like Eli Manning signed the same deal with the devil that his brother did because not only did he win a Super Bowl in a somewhat miracle fashion, but inexplicably, defenses are dropping his erratic passes that in previous years would have been intercepted. And, on top of that, they're deep at both WR and RB and are just pounding on teams. We'll learn a lot more about this team when they start their run against Pitt, Dallas, Philly, and Baltimore, but for right now, this is the team I see as most likely to stop the Skins from getting home field advantage in the playoffs (not that I'm getting ahead of myself or anything).

Home field advantage is huge this year because whatever team gets it is going to get an extra week off and then face the weakest remaining team at home. And all things being even, I'd rather face the Bears than the Panthers. (I'm predicting the playoff teams from the NFC will be: NY, Washington, Dallas, Chicago, Carolina, and Arizona.)

So, while we don't want to get ahead of ourselves (we gotta get out there and win), I think that as of right now, Washington has shown itself to be one of the elite teams. That means that we need to get locked in, beat the crap out of the bad teams (would give us a minimum of 10 wins), and be in position to win the division. If we do that, I'm going to consider this a successful season.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Two Debate Thoughts and some predictions

I know that the "pundits" think that America is the land of stupid, but I think there are 2 things that they should have discussed and pointedly ignored last night. For me, these were the 2 most relevant things I saw:

1. Palin barely answered any questions. Instead, she had little paragraphs about energy, taxes, and main street, etc which she tried to apply to questions that were not related in any way. I'd have to look up the specifics, but from memory, her answer to the Pakistan issue was utterly nonsensical and unrelated. On the substance, I thought she was a total failure, especially on foreign policy issues. Of course, you didn't see anyone say that on CNN last night because apparently the only thing they care about is how she looked, her body language, and her folksiness. But I think that America is actually paying attention to the issues and I think her evasions and lack of specifics hurts her more than her "regular gal" persona helps. If you watched the "support meter" at the bottom of the screen during the debate, every time either candidate got high tech on an issue, the meter's spiked up. And when the candidates were overly generic or evaded specifics, the meter plummeted. And it was plummeting a lot for Sarah Palin last night.

2. Palin talked a lot about principles and values - about helping the middle class - without speaking in specifics. The obvious reason for that is that the vast majority of the McCain/Palin platform directly contradicts the values that she was espousing. I'm utterly shocked that none of the pundits pointed this out. I know that the new McCain line is that he's a reformer and he'll fight for the little guy. Palin repeated it over and over again. But at some point you have to call bullshit and the media is consistenly failing in its job. The whole reason why the issue of lobbyists employed by his campaign matters, the reason why his vote for the 99 banking deregulation bill that was sponsored by his chief economic advisor Lindsay Graham and which is largely responsible for this crisis matters, the reason why his support of the bankruptcy bill which has created huge economic problems for millions of middle-classers matters, among many other policy positions - the reason why they matter is that they are proof positive that McCain has *consistently* voted against the little guy. So for the 12 person CNN panel to just ignore that was a disgrace.

Here's my theory: when Palin talked about the values she supported, the philosophy of supporting the middle class, I began to wonder just how much she supports McCain's platform. I don't think this woman is an idiot by any means (although she doesn't know jack shit about foreign policy). In fact, I think that she has very different ideas about how to govern than McCain does and that inherent tension makes her job almost impossible. When an interviewer or a moderater asks her about her views on any given issue, she is hamstrung by an inability to express her own views because they conflict with so much of what McCain stands for. I seriously wonder how different that debate would have been if it had been Biden-Palin straight up for the presidency.

None of this suggests that I agree with Palin. In fact, I know most of the philosophy stuff coming out of her mouth is utter bullshit. Or, to put it more palitably, it's easier to support certain things when you are the governer of an oil rich state and don't have to worry about the problems of a nation. And I think that's the crux of the public's disastisfaction with the Palin selection. It's not that she's an idiot. It's that she's woefully underprepared to be president, woefully underprepared to run a nation and given McCain's long history with cancer, his increasingly erratic behavior, and his lack of transparency about his medical history, her ability to lead the nation has become a salient issue.

Anyway, I thought I'd end this post with a few fearless predictions.

1. I think Obama is gonna win this thing with more than 300 electoral votes. In other words, I think we're about to see a landslide. Not only have the polls radically trended toward him over the last 10 days, I don't think that McCain can overturn the fundamental dynamics of a failing economy that he helped cause (the GOP as a whole is taking a huge hit on this one).

2. I think Obama wins Nevada, New Mex, Colorado, and Virginia in addition to all of the Kerry states. That would put him at 291, I believe (although I think he wins Omaha also which is good for 1, so call it 292).

3. I think there's about a 50% chance he's going to win North Carolina as well, which would be utterly shocking. Democrats just don't win the Carolinas. But things are trending toward him and against the GOP in NC (look at Dole, she's losing as of today) and that bodes well for Obama.

4. I have a bad feeling about Ohio. Don't know why really. Just feel like somehow McCain is gonna pull it out there.

5. I also think McCain will pull it out in Indiana although that's going to be hotly contested. To give a bit of a backstory, the McCain campaign has repeatedly made arrogant statements about winning Indiana, they don't have much of a ground game, and they don't appear to be paying much attention to it. On the other hand, Obama has been extremely agressive and is closing the gap. Indiana is definitely "in play" although I don't know if the McCain campaign has realized it. I put Obama's chances at 40% as of today but it's one of the races that I think has great potential for movement.

6. Missouri is another. Obama can win it. It's getting tighter. We'll have to watch and see what happens there in the next 2 weeks.

7. I think Obama is going to win Florida. A lot of retirees down there and it's certain that a great number of them have watched their 401k's go up in smoke over the last weeks. The economic dynamics really help Obama down there and I don't see how McCain recovers. He just doesn't have a grasp of economics in general and his team has yet to produce an economic plan to solve this crisis. Obama's got a 4-point plan and whether it works or not, I think people want to see that the candidates have at least an idea of what to do. And up to now, it's pretty evident that McCain is totally out of it on the biggest issue in this election.

In conclusion, my range for Obama is a low of 292 to a high of 344. That's of today. A lot can change in the next 4 weeks but barring anything truly shocking (Bill Clinton style), I can't see Obama losing this thing.

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