A-yup. Hurricane season is upon us. While New England is usually safe from a head-on collision (there are always exceptions), we usually get the tropical storm fall-out from those storms that beach themselves a little further south.
[Side note: To all my FList and lurker readers in Florida, best of luck this weekend. And stay safe.]
Now, U.S. Election FUN!
HHHEEEEEEE! Meet the Sloganator! I'm sure the Bush-Cheney Re-Election Campaign thought it was a good idea at the time, but they just didn't count on the public getting their hands on it.
The backstory as I understand it: In March 2004, the Bush-Cheney Re-election Web Site had a "create your own banner" tool. The general idea was that the faithful would be able to "create" their own Bush-Cheney '04 campaign poster, print it out, and display in a prominent place.
Obviously, there were filters to prevent the not-faithful from entering swear words or names of dictators or anything that might be construed as negative.
Whelp. Some people learned to work around that. The end result was a series of interesting slogans floating above the official Bush-Cheney '04 campaign logo and a notice that the sign was paid for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
Needless to say, the tool was pulled within weeks after it went up.
But the creativity of the vandals lives on.
I especially love Time of Your Life as the soundtrack for the Sloganator retrospective. So, warning: music will play while watching the slogans march by and there's no way to turn it off.
Because this election season really holds a sick fascination for me. One day I'm happy, and the next day I'm gloomy.
Lately I've been obsessively following two Electoral College trackers.
The Democrat-leaning Electoral College Vote Dot Com.
The Republican-leaning Election Projection Dot Com
Both sites put Kerry ahead for Electoral College votes. The Republican site has Kerry 56 votes ahead. The Democrat site has Kerry 116 votes ahead.
The Electoral College, for those of you who missed the 2000 Election Boondoggle or live outside the U.S., is the mechanism that actually elects the president.
Ummm, quick tutorial for overseas people: Each state has a number of votes they are allowed to cast in the Electoral College after the presidential elections in November. The number of votes a state has is based on population living inside that state. If a presidential candidate wins the popular vote within that individual state (say, in a 51% to 49% vote), they get ALL of that state's Electoral College votes. This is called a "winner take all" scenario.
Now technically, not all of the Electoral College votes in a state HAVE to be cast for the candidate that won the popular vote. Traditionally (at least since the Electoral College votes have been decided by popular election...my history is a little fuzzy on the Electoral College) the votes are a "rubber stamp" and the votes generally go to the candidate that won the popular vote in that state.
It's a complicated formula, but it explains why, say, California is more important to capture with its 55 Electoral College votes than, say, Massachusetts, which has 12 Electoral College votes. Of course, this all depends on campaign strategy (Recall Reagan's 1980 famous "southern strategy" that made South of the Mason-Dixon line a sea of red--the Republican Party color) and how close the race is based on Electoral College numbers (for example, during the 2000 Election, there were jokes that Hawaii's 4 Electoral College votes could possibly be a deciding factor).
In short, campaigning for president in the U.S. is really an exercise in numbers, strategy, and learning to pick your battles. For example, the Kerry-Edwards Campaign knows that there's no point spending hard-earned campaign war chest money in Texas to capture its 34 Electoral College votes since it is a hard core "red state" for Bush. Bush-Cheney knows not to spend it's campaign war chest money in California to capture its 55 votes because it is a hard core "blue state" (blue being the Democratic Party color) for Kerry.
Think of it as one big ol' game of Risk(tm).
All the money is being spent and all the ads are being shown in battleground states and swing states where one candidate may have a slight lead over the other, but polling shows it's still possible for the candidate who's down to catch up.
For example, I live in Massachusetts, a blue state surrounded by blue states. I've not seen the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads (except some excerpts on the news). Why? Because there's no point to airing those ads in this area because, according to polls, Kerry is so far ahead that Bush will never capture Massachusetts' 12 Electoral College votes.
[I won't get into the "independent" activists groups that are allowed to spend money under much looser guidelines than the campaigns. Both "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (aligned with Republicans) and MoveOn.org (aligned with Democrats). That is a question of campaign finance money and I'm typing this at work.]
Personally, I still say it's too early to call this election for Kerry. I want a bigger spread Electoral College votes and I want a guarantee that the Republicans don't have an "October surprise" up their sleeves, aka Osama is captured.
Truthfully, I want Bush humiliated with a sea of blue on Election Night, but I know I won't get my wish. I'll settle for being more comfortably ahead going into November 2.