Archive for August, 2012

Harry & Diana Petersen (click to see full size)

On a brilliant sunny Saturday afternoon in Bremerton, across Puget Sound from Seattle, a handsome Navy petty officer and a lovely schoolteacher pledged to love and honor each other forevermore, as they became husband and wife.

The Web Goddess and I were among the witnesses to the back-yard nuptials, and while my wife was taking the photos accompanying this post, I was wiping away happy tears as I saw and felt the love radiating from my son and his bride.

The groom is Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Harry Kirk Petersen — whom I once dubbed “Sarge” in a post explaining his rating and rank.   The bride, now known as Diana Padgett Petersen, teaches seventh-grade English and coaches high school swimming in the Bremerton public schools.  Her nine-year-old son Gavin, who plays soccer and baseball and is thrilled with his new step-father, wore multiple hats as ring bearer, best man and bride’s attendant.

Harry, Diana & Gavin pour colored sands into a vase, symbolizing a new work of art blended from three essential components.

The happy couple met 18 months ago in a local tavern, where she had gone with friends for line-dancing lessons and he had gone with Navy buddies to shoot pool.  While Harry watched a foursome of his mates play eight-ball, he was asked to fill in as a dancing partner, and a serendipitous spark was lit.

Harry soon left on a six-month deployment, as sailors do, and the couple kept in touch daily by email, and by phone whenever he was in port.  When the Nimitz returned from the Indian Ocean, Harry and Diana soon started talking about the long term.

Harry has more than 18 months left on his enlistment, which probably means one more long deployment starting early next year.  “Sarge” and his new family will weather the hardship of separation the way military families have done for centuries — with a sense of duty and a fierce hunger for reunion.

Diana and Gavin, the Web Goddess and I are honored to know you and thrilled to welcome you to our extended family.  Harry, we’re proud of you and love you, and think you made a wonderful match.  Thank you for your service, and may you have fair winds and following seas.

The day before the wedding, the Web Goddess and your humble scribe take a break from mini-golf with our soon-to-be step-grandson, Gavin. (Photo by Harry Petersen)

Harry's Navy buddies try to rescue him from his marital future. In this tug-of-war, the smart money is on the five-foot-two gal in the pretty dress.

(Photos by the Web Goddess, except as noted)

This is a static snapshot of today - the version in the side column will be updated dynamically.

It’s time once again to launch Electoral-Vote.com’s tracking widget — almost exactly four years to the day after it made its first appearance on my humble blog.

For better or worse, we don’t have national elections in America. We have 51 state elections.  Occasionally this matters a lot — just ask President Gore about his half-million-vote “national victory” in 2000.

It takes 270 electoral votes to win, so if the election were held today, polls indicate Obama would win with 284 electoral votes (plus or minus 13, depending on Virginia, which currently is deadlocked). Looks like the Senate would be deadlocked at 49-49, with two seats too close to call.

But the races can be volatile.  Four years ago this week, the same widget predicted 275 EV for Obama, 250 for McCain.  On Election Day, Obama actually won 365 electoral votes, more than twice McCain’s total of 173.

This year on Nov. 6, the Web Goddess and I will cast presidential votes that are utterly meaningless — not just because we’ll cancel each other out, but also because there is zero chance that Romney will carry New Jersey. The states that matter most this year are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

As near as I can tell, every poll ever taken on the subject shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans think the Electoral College should be eliminated in favor of direct national elections.  But don’t look for a Constitutional amendment any time soon — the amendment process is even more strongly skewed in favor of smaller states than the Electoral College itself.

A non-profit called National Popular Vote Inc. has been pushing a proposal that would technically retain the Electoral College, even while rendering it irrelevant.  From their homepage:

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill preserves the Electoral College, while ensuring that every vote in every state will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote law has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it.

Interestingly, the big state vs. small state struggle doesn’t seem to come into play.  Jurisdictions that have passed the NPV bill range from the smallest of the small — Vermont and District of Columbia, with three electoral votes each — to California, the biggest jackpot, with 55 electoral votes.

No, the divide that matters is on red-blue lines.  The other states that have enacted the bill include New Jersey (which managed to enact it in 2008 without me noticing), Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington.  Every single one of these states has gone to the Democratic candidate in each of the past five presidential elections, going back to 1992.

Maybe the red-blue split has something to do with the fact that the only election in living memory that would have gone the other way in the absence of the Electoral College is Bush vs. Gore in 2000.  The last time before that was Harrison vs. Cleveland in 1888.


Liberals are proclaiming that by choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has changed the strategy of his campaign — when in fact, he’s doubled-down on it.

In a Slate post headlined “Romney/Ryan 2012 Means We’ll Ignore the Biggest Issue of Our Time,” Matthew Yglesias writes:

But attention is to an extent a zero-sum game. And focusing attention on the big-picture disagreement between Democrats and Republicans about long-term fiscal policy means we won’t be focusing attention on what ought to be the most pressing economic policy issue of our time—mass unemployment and the tragic waste of human and economic potential it represents

Talk about wishful thinking!  I think it’s safe to assume that unemployment will continue to be a major focus of the campaign.  Policy wonks and partisans may consider deficit reduction and unemployment as separate issues, but for swing voters I think it all conflates into responsible stewardship of the economy.

Here’s Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post:

… the choice of Ryan pushes against what has been the central theory of Romney’s campaign: make it less of a choice between himself and Obama and more of a referendum on the incumbent president and the languishing economy.

Actually, no matter who is on the ticket, a presidential re-election campaign will always be both a choice between two candidates and a referendum on the incumbent.  This time, Obama doesn’t have the luxury of running against the incumbent.

Ezra Klein, also in the Washington Post:

Romney’s original intention was to make the 2012 election a referendum on President Obama’s management of the economy. Ryan makes it a choice between two competing plans for deficit reduction. This election increasingly resembles the Obama campaign’s strategy rather than the Romney campaign’s strategy.

More wishful thinking.  Although Paul Ryan certainly is the primary focus of election coverage this weekend, that will soon fade.  Ultimately the election is a choice between Romney and Obama.

No matter how much Obama partisans want to wedge Paul Ryan into a Sarah Palin narrative, that won’t work.  Watch Ryan’s famous three-minute “Path to Prosperity” video above and you’ll see an articulate spokesman for fiscal responsibility. What you won’t see is a target-rich environment for Tina Fey.

In 2008, I hadn’t paid much attention to the speculation about whom the candidates would name as their running mates.  Obama picked Joe Biden, and I was like, yeah, OK.

Then McCain swung for the fences with Sarah Palin, leading to a post that has lived ever since in my “Favorites” column: “Five Stages of Adjusting to Palin.”  The stages: “Confusion; Rationalization; Annoyance; Gloom; Reconsidering My Vote.”  An excerpt from Stage Two:

OK, so it’s not a great pick, but maybe it will help McCain get elected by shoring up his relationship with social conservatives, and attracting disaffected Hillary voters who already are considering McCain.

This stage lasted the rest of the day Friday, while I hunted for reasons to reassure myself that she’s not a terrible choice.

That was then.  This morning, up early with a touch of insomnia, I flipped on the little TV in the kitchen while the coffee brewed and listened to one of CNN’s talking heads say something along the lines of: “We have breaking news — Mitt Romney will announce his vice presidential running mate later today.”

OMG… I quite literally held my breath.  “Sources say he will name House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan…”

Fist pump. YES!

Ryan first landed on my blogging radar screen in early 2010 as a forceful and articulate fiscal conservative, when he pushed back hard against what was not yet known as Obamacare. In 2011, I praised his “Path to Prosperity” budget proposal, in which he bluntly declared, “both parties have squandered the public’s trust.”  At 42, Ryan is two years younger than Sarah Palin was in 2008, but he has a gravitas that she will never attain.

I continue to believe we have a ridiculous system for choosing a vice president.  I’m just happy that this time, my favored candidate made a good choice.

Long-time conservative piñata Dana Milbank comes down pretty hard today on the loathsome Harry Reid, he of “this war is lost” fame in 2007.

It makes sense that Reid wouldn’t want to be questioned on the particulars of his outlandish accusation that Romney is the tax deadbeat of the decade. But those close to the senator tell me that he’s delighted with the conflagration he sparked last week and that he is determined to keep it going. This soft-spoken Mormon from rural Nevada is quite deliberately turning himself into the mad dog of the 2012 campaign.

“Mad Dog Reid” — I kinda like it.

 

Don't blame me, blame the NavyNo matter how far Left someone is, or how anti-war, or even anti-American, I think we all could agree that one should not publish the sailing time of troop ships during a war.  A no-brainer, right?  But what if the publisher is the U.S. Navy itself?

It happens all the time.  Case in point, the photo accompanying this blog post (if you’re reading this on RSS, click through to the damn blog to see the photo.  And while you’re there, would it kill ya to actually click on a friggin’ ad once in a while?  I’m just sayin’.)

Onward!  “Sailing time of troop ships” is kind of an archaic phrase — modern ships don’t “sail,” and there is no longer a class of ships OFFICIALLY referred to as “troop ships.” But those are quibbles, and modern equivalents exist.  If you ever find yourself in possession of the knowledge that your government is about to launch a daring nighttime raid to take down Public Enemy No. 1 inside the borders of a semi-hostile ally… just to pick a wild hypothetical… if you ever have that knowledge, in the name of sweet Jesus or Loki or whoever, DON’T TWEET ABOUT IT IN ADVANCE!

Where was I?  The photo.  Below in its entirety is the caption that the U.S. Navy wrote, within the past week, describing the location of thousands of U.S. and allied sailors right now, through the day after tomorrow:

120727-N-VD564-015 PACIFIC OCEAN (July 27, 2012) Ships and submarines participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise 2012 are in formation in the waters around the Hawaiian islands. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith Devinney/Released)

Who told the enemy about RIMPAC?  String ‘em up! (Cue the visual of Jon Stewart touching his ear and pretending the control booth is setting him straight.)

My point, and I do have one, is not to make fun of Op-Sec rules.  One of those thousands of sailors is my son, and I’d be savagely pissed off if someone disclosed his whereabouts in a way that endangered him.  My point is the danger of “zero-tolerance” laws.

“Zero-tolerance” would mean that I’d be in trouble for this blog post even though the Navy itself provided the potentially most dangerous information.  But now I’ve increased that miniscule danger by a a hyper-miniscule amount by mentioning my son.

Think I’m kidding?  Note that the Navy did not disclose the names of any of the ships in the exercise.  But you can glance at my blog and learn my son is on the Nimitz.  The Nimitz is that big boat in the foreground of the picture, unless there’s another aircraft carrier at RIMPAC.  My son’s a second-class Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, which is one of three ratings responsible for launching and recovering fighter jets in the Arabian Sea and other war zones, and his two tours thus far have taken him to exotic places including Japan and …

Still think I’m kidding?  Ask the loved ones of Chief Mass Communication Specialist Keith Devinney how comfortable they are with that caption. There’s nothing in my prior paragraph that hasn’t ALREADY been on my blog, and even if the blog never existed, there’s nothing dangerous in the graf that Osama bin-Soggy couldn’t piece together with very modest effort.  But if any jerk of a prosecutor ever wants an excuse to make my life a living hell, that paragraph could provide it.  I’d be scared to publish it if not for the fact that my life is a target-rich environment.

Be safe, son. I love you.

(Hat tip: Mom)