"That you may ruminate"

Posts Tagged ‘elections’

…On Joe Bouchard.

Posted by Steve on October 18, 2009

You most likely do not know who Joe Bouchard is, especially since I’m not talking about the Blue Öyster Cult bassist, because you most likely do not live in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Well, Joe Bouchard is the incumbent delegate to the Virginia General Assembly from the 83rd District. And in his effort to defeat Chris Stolle and get reelected two weeks from Tuesday, he has released what may well be the worst attack ad I’ve ever seen.

Seriously, I saw it come on TV the other night, and I was just baffled by why the Bouchard campaign thought it would sway people against Chris Stolle. See, it doesn’t attack Stolle’s proposals, or his judgment, or his values, or his ideas, or his record from another position… ok, it does that last, but it’s a ridiculous stretch. See, Chris Stolle works at a hospital. So, of course, Bouchard’s put on tv an ad that attacks… the hospital.

WTF?

Tellingly, the ad has not been put on YouTube. As it stands, it’s just one more example of the reason I don’t like election season – which seems to be neverending here in Virginia: the damned campaigning.

Advertisements

Posted in Here be Politics! | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On The Loo(m/n)ing Elections.

Posted by Steve on March 28, 2009

Today is Saturday, March 28, 2009. Today, I saw big signs for candidates in a major upcoming election.

Fortunately, it’s an election that will at least take place this year. There’s no excuse for campainging right now for the 2010 elections – or the 2012 elections, though that hasn’t apparently stopped some people (see “Straw Poll comma CPAC 2009”).

But I live in Virginia, and in Virginia, state elections are held in odd-numbered years. So, there’s an election for governor (where His Excellency Governor Kaine’s prohibited from running for re-election because this ass-backwards state not only calls the governor “His (or hypothetically Her) Excellency”, but prohibits reelection), and for the state House of Delegates. And while a bunch of city offices are elected in even numbered years – so last year we voted for mayor and part of the city council – the County and City Sheriffs (Yes, City Sheriffs, because in Virginia a City is the same as a County in any other state. We also have Counties here. That’s why Richmond County contains no cities and is 50 miles away from City of Richmond which is not in any county. Did I mention “ass-backwards” political structure?) and the Commonwealth’s Attorneys (DAs elsewhere).

As a result, people have begun campaigning for Governor already. I mean, the election’s only in November, so it’s only 219 days away. Of course, there’s primaries, but the big signs I saw were all for Bob McDonnell, who is… running unopposed in the Republican Party primary. I think he’d have been ok waiting a little while.

On the other hand, there’s 3 guys running in the Democratic Party’s primary (Brian Moran,Creigh Deeds, and Terry McAuliffe) and and since that’s going to be held on June 9th, the three of them really need to get their signs up – they only have 72 more days to campaign in!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, the “campaign season” takes too long and becomes farcical. If they’d wait at least until after Tax Day to start, I think there’d be a lot less mudslinging and asinine horse-race sort of “news” coverage. Maybe it wouldn’t actually improve the quality of campaigning from the crap we get right now, but it would at least cut down on the quantity of the crap.

Posted in Here be Politics! | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Craig Ferguson’s Mistake.

Posted by Steve on November 3, 2008

A few Mondays ago, Jeff (look under “I Know These People” over on the right) made me aware of this monologue by Craig Ferguson, which I like and largely agree with.

Except for one thing, which I disagree with strongly enough to mention it here. Right around the 8:20 mark, when he says, “We have two patriotic candidates.”

Two? No. We have more than two. Where I live (Virginia), we have at least 6 (I don’t know if there’s any officially-recognized* write-in candidates), with 6 candidates for Vice President as well. They are, listed in their order on the sample ballot:

  1. Democratic Party electors for Barack Obama and Joe Biden
  2. Republican Party electors for John McCain and Sarah Palin
  3. Independent Green Party electors for Chuck Baldwin and Darrell L. Castle
  4. Libertarian Party electors for Bob Barr and Wayne A. Root
  5. Green Party electors for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente
  6. Independent Party electors for Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez

Those 4 you don’t hear anything about, they deserve some mention too. I know they won’t win tomorrow. I know their candidacies were futile, and I know why. I learned about Duverger’s Law in 10th grade. I know it’s a set of structural defects in the (predominant) U.S. election rules that causes it. Which is strange, since in another area, the U.S. has given the world what is, quite possibly, the single largest application of the greatest vote system yet put into place by humanity: Borda count. Also known as, “The College Football Polls.”

Let’s be clear: I don’t exactly like that the polls exist (congratulations to reigning National Champions Appalachian State), and I really really don’t like the actual votes or the reasons the voters give for them (with the exception of Greg Archuleta, who had a moment of clarity back in January of 2007). But as far as an electoral system goes – the way the ballot’s structured, and most importantly, the way the votes are counted, there’s nothing better in practice.

We all know how it works: ranked votes, with each ranking worth a few less points than the one before it. Voter gets alloted a number of these “point bundles” to pass out, and can use as few or as many of them as they want. Then, add up the points, and whoever’s got the most wins. I don’t know of a better system that’s been put into practice in any elections – and I include Single Transferrable Vote (which I’ve voted in favor of, when it was on a referendum – it’s a very close second) in that.

But, alas, we’re stuck with the first-past-the-post system, which completely lacks any redeeming quality. It allows (really, more like ensures) wasted votes and a spoiler effect, and it’s an utter flop when it comes to the single most important criterion for judging a voting system: the Condorcet loser criterion.

Am I suggesting that Bob Barr or Cynthia McKinney would have a real shot at the Presidency of the United States if the electoral system weren’t screwed up (Set aside arguments over whether or not the Electoral College is a good system. Only two states, Maine and Nebraska, are giving out their electoral votes in anything that can fairly be called a legitimate manner)? Absolutely not. I lived a long time in Georgia while both of them were in the House, and even if one believes that Barr’s conversion to libertarianism is legit (it may well be), I don’t think either of them should be trusted with high office. But I do think it would be one hell of a lot better for America if tomorrow we all got a ballot that read something like this:

Candidates for President: Assign at least a first-place vote and up to a fifth-place vote for:
Barack Obama, Progressive Democratic Party
John McCain, National Republican Party
Mike Huckabee, American Republican Party
Hillary Clinton, Democratic Liberty Party
John Edwards, Christian Democratic Party
Ron Paul, Conservative Liberty Party of America
Ralph Nader, Independent
Directional Michigan, Mid-American Conference

.

Alas, it is not to be.

On the plus side, I researched all the local school board candidates and was unable to find a single reference to creationism, so the worst-case scenario with those votes ain’t too bad.

Happy voting.

*I’m assuming the Minnesota practice of requiring people to file paperwork officially declaring their write-in candidacy (and designating the names of their electors, if being written-in for President) in order for write-in votes with their name to be counted is also the Virginia practice.

P.S.: You know, party rules may prohibit it, but there’s no Constitutional requirement and I doubt there’s a Federal Statutory requirement that a Presidential candidate have a running mate, or that a Vice-Presidential candidate be tied to a Presidential candidate, or that you vote for a joint ticket. Not that I actually expect anyone to cast a vote for, say, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin – but I’m pretty sure they could. For that matter, you could announce your candidacy for Vice President even before the first primary was held. I think.

Posted in Football, From the News, Here be Politics! | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

…On Asinine Election-Related Promotions.

Posted by Steve on October 12, 2008

7-11 is currently running some sort of promotion involving “voting” for President of the United States using coffee cups. My guess is that they have a McCain cup and an Obama cup, and when you get coffee at 7-11, you can show your support for one candidate or the other through your choice of cup. Which, since 7-11 cups are one of the leading types of litter on streets in this state, means I guess that you’ll be able to have your preferred candidate’s name scattered more thoroughly throughout the area? I don’t know.

Then, there’s the even more ridiculous: the Silver Diner chain in the Delmarva states (actually, Marva & Jersey, but close enough) has a “vote-by-menu-choice” promotion going on. That’s right: they have a Barack Obama omelette and a John McCain omelet. Granted, I don’t think that they’re actually saying a preference for a barbecue-themed omelet (and here’s a question: what the hell does Arizona or John McCain have to do with barbecue? Strom Thurmond is barbecue, Jesse Helms is barbecue, Max Cleland is barbecue, even John Edwards is barbecue, but there is no barbecue worthy of the name west of the Appalachians!) versus a Chicago-pizza themed omelet an actually indicator of people’s preferences for, say, Iraq War Policy, and how they’ll actually vote. So I imagine the bit about how they’ll make a “Presidential prediction” based on the sale of these limited-time menu items is tongue-in-cheek for “We might keep the one yall buy and eat more of”. Still, I think it’s a pretty dumb marketing tie-in.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »