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The Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo(s) in Texas Named

During the week prior to the election, contest participants sent in their best guess on what Obama’s electoral vote count would be.

The results are in. Sort of.

Most leading news sources still haven’t called Missouri, but the rest of the country is settled. Having a short attention span, I got tired of waiting. After once again looking at McCain’s admittedly-narrow lead in the state, I’m calling Missouri for McCain. This leaves a final electoral vote count of 365 for Obama. Some news sources are reporting 364, but it appears that Nebraska, which can split electoral votes, has indeed peeled one vote off in Obama’s favor. But it doesn’t matter since nobody picked 365 anyway.

So among our contest entrants, who, you ask, is the Biggest Baddest Political Savvy Mo-Fo in Texas? Well, there are actually 5, each of whom picked 364 electoral votes for Obama, the closest guess (and, amazingly, the most popular guess from among contestants).

Say hello to my leetle friends: Nick Hellyar, Hal Kilshaw, Mike Buda, Matt Hardigree, and Joe Bean. Congratulations to the five Letters From Texas readers who have proven themselves to not be idiots. The rest of us are sucking it.

The winner of the free t-shirt, as chosen by Doug Zabel (the guy) via random drawing is Nick Hellyar. Congratulations Nick!

Interestingly, at least two of the five who are the biggest baddest politically savvy mo-fo’s in Texas, are indeed not in Texas at all. Hal Kilshaw, a hell of a political mind who has done work in Texas before, is a Louisiana boy. And Mike Buda is in Michigan.

Honorable Mentions:

Rachel Farris, who picked 360, was only 5 votes off, and who has complained that I did not properly link to her in this post as originally written, which pretty much proves that she is, indeed, mean rachel. Dot com.

Randall Terrell, who picked 371, was only 6 votes off.

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Election alert: politics is delicious, but not low fat

In another stunning political update from Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, State Governmental Affairs Division, it has come to our attention that in Colorado state senate races, bacon beats fries.

Apparently, voters wondered “where’s the beef?” in reaction to the challenge. Maybe after this Republican lost in his challenge effort, he’ll lettuce alone. If he doesn’t, we might be in quite a pickle. And after this post, you may be checking yourself into the Mayo Clinic.

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Things are getting WAY too Hope-y and Yes-We-Can-y around here

Elections are wondrous things. It’s a special time of hope, during which the dreams of approximately 49 percent of the entire voting age population of the United States of America are completely crushed.

Election time is also a time of reflection. Mostly, I’m reflecting about what the hell I’m going to do with these useless freakin’ pictures of me with John Edwards, which I threw into the back of my closet a few months back.

And elections are a time to turn your back on that which has passed, and instead focus on the promise of the future. Which in many cases consists of election recounts and lawyer-dominated election result challenges, very ugly speakership fights, and the impending doom of 5 months worth of the legislative session.

I just thought I’d share, because there seems to be a distinct lack of cynicism in the air today. And frankly, we just can’t have that.

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Election Day Circular Stream of Consciousness Thoughts

1. How come they make a big deal out of the election eve voting in Notchville Dix, or Dixville Notch, or whatever the hell it is? The local Chamber of Commerce there has an even better scam going than the Marfa Lights. Marfa’s been stealing tourists’ money for years.

2. Speaking of stealing, the Texas Weekly “Out There” column guy linked to my “yard sign thefts in my neighborhood” article, but not my “election night drinking game” article. That he is more attracted to stealing than substance abuse indicates that he, whoever he is, has a promising future ahead of him in politics. It would be even more promising if he was drawn to both, however – with extra credit points if he is married, but gettin’ some on the side. I strongly suggest Texas Weekly publisher Ross Ramsey keep a close eye on him for a while.

3. Speaking of my neighborhood yard sign thefts, that situation made the TV last night. I am not, however, responsible for the so-called “American” who has a life size cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, and for the record, she lives in Zilker, not my neighborhood. She reportedly tried to move into my neighborhood, but she was stopped at the border by the authorities.

4. Speaking of TV, I’m on it tonight. If you’re in the Austin area for election night, tune into News8Austin beginning shortly after 6 p.m. for the thrill of watching me pretend like I know what the hell is going on. RPT’s Hans Klingler will also be there all night, with other guests rotating in, including the lovely and talented Hector Nieto with TDP (who, on TV, always looks kind of like a Muppet , but I mean that in a good way). We are apparently broadcasting live from the roof of the studio building, and my main goal is to bet Hans on the outcome of the Presidential race. The loser has to jump.

5. Speaking of election night, how did I get tricked into missing all the election night parties? Does the TV station have some H.R. policy against drinking tequila on the roof?

6. Speaking of tequila, how did I manage to run out of it on election eve? That’s just poor planning.

7. Speaking of election eve, how come they get to jump the gun and vote on election eve in Notchville Dix, or Dixville Notch, or whatever the hell it is?

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Signs of the times

Readers may remember that last week, hundreds of Obama signs were stolen from my East Austin neighborhood.

I’m happy to report that over the weekend, the ‘hood rallied back quite well. Here are just a few examples. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

First, there’s the “safety in numbers” house.

Another neighbor tried the “total overkill” strategy – mounting a 4×8 highway sign to the driveway gate, and just for good measure, also painted the window in case that didn’t work.

Yet another neighbor tried the “obey the Bible” approach, with some Buddhism thrown in just to cover all the bases. Confused theology perhaps, but effective.

But I think my favorite is the neighbor who tried the Burma-Shave approach.

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How to Watch a Presidential Election Unfold on Election Night

As a public service to you, the crap-reading public, Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters, Electoral College Division, proudly presents these tips for watching Presidential election returns come in.

First, and above all, do not go through this process completely sober. McCain and Obama aren’t, why should you? Drink heavily – some of you are about to be very disappointed, and will need to drown your sorrows. Most of you will be ecstatically happy, and you’ll want to be in a celebratory mood. Either way, bust out the booze.

Now onto the meat of the issue.

The networks will call various states for one of the candidates as soon as they can. If exit polling plows a clear enough mathematical path, they’ll do so immediately after the last polls close in a state. Therefore, the poll closing schedule becomes crucial. (all the following times are in Central Time – local to most of Texas)

6 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia. McCain should carry Georgia. If he doesn’t, it could be early indication of a very bad night for Republicans. Virginia is leaning Obama, barely. If Obama takes it by more than a point or two, watch out – it could indicate that Obama has also carried North Carolina. If Obama fails to carry Virginia, it could be an early indication that you’re staying up later than you thought – slow down on your drinking. If Obama is ahead in Indiana, which has been voting Republican in past Presidential elections, that’s an early and bad canary-in-the-mineshaft sign for McCain – pick up the pace on your drinking.

6:30 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in Ohio, North Carolina, and West Virginia. If Ohio and North Carolina split, it might be a longer night. If Obama carries both, down another drink quickly, you probably won’t be up very late. You might also glance at West Virginia, which McCain should carry. If he doesn’t, he’s in deep trouble.

7:00 p.m. Central Time
The last polls close in the Florida panhandle, and in New Hampshire, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. In the off-chance that McCain wins New Hampshire, and doesn’t lose Florida, Obama supporters are in for a long night, slow down on the drinking. On the other hand, if Obama carries Missouri, especially by more than a squeak, order your next round with a little less water and a little more scotch.

Also, please note that contrary to popular belief, the last polls in Texas do not close at 7 p.m., they close at 8 because El Paso is in the Mountain Time Zone. However, sometimes the networks jump the gun, so they may call Texas for McCain at 7 instead of 8. Because, sheesh, it’s just El Paso.

8 p.m. Central Time
By now most results from the East Coast and Midwest will be pouring in. If all the likely blue states in those regions, plus Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida can now be called for Obama, you can probably safely call the entire race for Obama. But if Obama loses Florida, he’ll need Ohio more urgently. If he loses that too, then you better drink heavily and pray for New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. New Mexico and Colorado’s polls also close now, but you might need to wait a while for either of those states to be called, especially New Mexico. Drink up. You might also glance at Arizona now, because their polls close as well. McCain should win it, but if he doesn’t, it will be a total embarrassment for him.

9 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in Nevada and Iowa. You’re trying to pay attention to Nevada, but you’re drunk. McCain is still holding out desperate hope that he might carry Iowa despite his poor showing in the polls, because he needs it. He won’t carry it, but pay attention to the point spread if by now the electoral vote count is still close – it might indicate something about left coast states. I frankly doubt it, but I’m trying to give you people something to do while you drink.

10 p.m. Central Time
Polls close in California, which Obama will carry, and if he hasn’t already won, that state’s mighty 55 electoral votes will officially carry him over the top, exceeding 270. You’re probably already passed out, and even if you’re not, you won’t remember it later. Also, try to keep the drunk text messages to a minimum.

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Finally, a Democrat worth believing in stealing for

I live in one of the neighborhoods in Austin that perfectly demonstrates what they say about Democrats in Travis County. It drives Republicans nuts.

When I moved in years ago, the precinct was heavily minority. As one might expect, it was also strongly Democratic. Over the years as East Austin gentrification changed the neighborhood and more anglo families moved in, the precinct actually became more Democratic than it had been before, and turn-out in most elections has gone up too. You haven’t seen a lot of that elsewhere in Texas. Damn tax and spend liberals. Also, we’ve all changed our middle names to “Hussein.”

There’s a rent house down the street, in which the tenant moved in after the primary elections. The first thing he did was plant a Ron Paul sign in his yard. I don’t really understand the Ron Paul cult. After the primary, when does that guy think he’s going to get to vote for him? In a related story, nobody talks to him, and area children will undoubtedly skip his house on Halloween. I bet his house is even one of those dead zones described in the Verizon commercials. See what can happen? You Ron Paul cult people really should get with the game plan.

Aside from the Ron Paul cult dude, my entire neighborhood has been completely covered up with Obama yard signs. Competely. Covered. Up.

Even my next door neighbors got into the act. You have to understand about my neighbors. They’re…interesting. Lets just say they’re not generally known around here as civic leaders. As witness to that notion, the way they obtained their Obama yard sign in the first place was to steal somebody else’s Obama yard sign and plant it in their own yard. We know this because Dolly, the local Obama sign person, being a creative sort, did all kinds of unique things to each Obama yard sign she distributed. She immediately recognized my next-door-neighbor’s sign as one she had planted in a yard a block or so away. When she went to double-check, sure enough, the original location was missing a sign.

The deep enthusiasm is, indeed, a nice contrast from elections past. In fact, if I had not thrown away my John Kerry yard sign after the last Presidential election, the damn thing would still be there. The Republicans might even stop by every once in a while to wash and wax it.

Fast forward to the last few days. Every single Obama sign on every major street in my ‘hood has suddenly been stolen in the middle of the night. All of them. Including mine, and including my next door neighbors.

Some of my fellow hoodies are pretty P.O.’ed about this, but I’m not. I could not be tickled pinker to finally have a Democratic nominee for President of the United States who so threatens Republicans that one or more of them feel frightened enough to resort to stealing hundreds of Obama yard signs. As if that will change the outcome of this election. As if that will muscle people back to the Republicans’ flawed view of the world. As if it will do something to preserve their ever-narrowing little world.

On the other hand, there is a contrasting theory that Travis County Democratic Chairman Andy Brown went through and stole them himself, so he could re-sell the signs to raise more money, to buy more signs. If so, more power to him.

Most of all, I truly enjoy the irony of my next door neighbors’ situation: somebody stole from them the Obama sign they stole from somebody else.

Steal it forward. Vote Obama.

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Desperate Cries for Help Your Faithful Correspondent in the News

Crack Associated Press reporters Jay Root (most recently of the might-as-well-be-defunct Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and April Castro (most recently in the Z-Tejas bar) co-write an election preview piece on the legislative outlook in which I am included, presumably because it’s kind of cool how I gratuitously insult George W. Bush.

Austin America-Statesman Washington Bureau reporter Jason Embry writes an analysis piece on the Congressional district 10 race, in which I somehow fail to gratuitously insult George W. Bush.

Sneak Preview: applicable if you’re in the Austin area on Election night, I’ll be part of the News 8 coverage team all night after the polls close in the central time zone at 7 pm. I’ll be joined by, among others, Republican Hans Klingler, who is assigned to disagree with everything I say. Klingler and I have been hand-picked for this prestigious assignment mainly because we’re old enough to seem slightly credible to the 8-10 year old target market, yet we’re young enough to still have hair.

As you may already be aware, Hans is an underhanded double-dealing low-down mean spirited sniveling Republican. Since he is my good friend, I will tolerate absolutely no insults whatsoever of Hans on this website. Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters has strict policies against such things.

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Letters From Texas “Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo In Texas” Contest!

Winners announced

Think you know what’s going on in the race for President? Well talk’s cheap, bucko. We’re having a contest!

Email me with your best guess for how many electoral votes Obama will get, and the winner not only gets a free t-shirt of his or her choice from, but will also be enthusiastically bragged about on this website as The biggest baddest politically savvy mo-fo in Texas, 2008 Edition. Now how the hell can you beat that with a stick, like you do your cat?

Personally, I think Obama is heading for 319 electoral votes, but I’ll change my mind 12 times between now and election day. What about you? And, oh yeah, we’re not letting you wait until the last minute either. You have to enter by Halloween, because one never knows what surprises await on the final weekend before election day.

CNN’s electoral vote calculator map is a helpful tool to help you work out the math.

Here’s the deal: you’re considered entered in the contest if you email me by midnight, October 31st, with your estimate of how many electoral votes Obama will get. In case of multiple entries by the same person, only the last entry will count (in other words, you’re allowed to change your mind, until the deadline)

Why email? Because it wouldn’t be fair for the late entries to see what the earlier entries have guessed. Also, some people might not want to out themselves prior to the election.

All entries which correctly guess the number of electoral votes Obama receives (or ties for closest) will be enthusiastically bragged about on this website as the official Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo In Texas. And one will get a free t-shirt of his or her choice (in case of a tie, a drawing will be held to choose the t-shirt winner).

Feel free to comment, but remember that you’re not entered until I get your email. Good luck!

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I’ve been framed!!

I’m innocent, because I’ve already voted. But…have you?

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Special note to the remaining “undecided” voters of America

People. Seriously. I keep seeing you in the polls. I know some of you just don’t want to tell a pollster who you’ll vote for, so you claim to remain undecided. Others of you simply don’t want to admit that you’re not voting at all, but indeed you live under a rock, never intended to vote, and have paid no attention. Whatever – I salute you. This is not addressed to any of you people.

But, for those of you who truly do intend to cast a ballot by the time the polls close on November 4th, but who remain undecided in the Presidential race: WTF are you thinking?

This issues have never been more clear. The distinctions between the candidates could not be more stark. The choices as to what direction you would most want the country to go are obvious.

So whats say you just make up your little bitty minds, hmmmmm? Meanwhile, here’s the impression the rest of us have of you at the moment.

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A picture is worth…

…exactly two words, in this case.

While I was in line waiting my turn this morning, a very nice older woman who was standing in line in front of me turned around and said, quite ferociously, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for eight damn years!”

Indeed ma’am. Indeed.

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Now we know why they’re doing so well in the polls: their razor-sharp focus on the important issues of our time.

In related news, I thought a short review of several pictures McCain supporters are spreading around the web might be relevant. Please note that these are the tamest ones – I found many too offensive to post.

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Here’s a campaign that really started out from behind

Being the cutting edge folks we are, Letters From Texas Worldwide H.Q. wrote months ago about Italian porn star Milly D’Abbraccio’s political campaign to be elected as a council member on Rome’s city council.

We are now very happy to report that the campaign posters are out.

I have no translation, so if anybody knows Italian, please tell us what it says. I mean, if there’s anything written on the poster. If there is, I haven’t noticed.

I fear her opponent may have hit bottom. And I apologize for this.

Would anybody like to see any Texas candidates run the same sort of campaign?

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Presidential Debate Preview

For the second-to-last Presidential debate, I wrote this in my debate preview:

John McCain is down in the polls, and sinking farther every day. The shine is off his running mate, states previously considered “safe” for Republicans are suddenly toss-ups, and McCain desperately needs a game-changer.

He won’t get it.

Another eight days have passed, and McCain’s electoral map hole is even deeper. The economy has dealt him nothing but bad cards, and yet to win the election McCain must run the table in key states.

Remember traditional key states? They include Ohio (Obama up 3.4%), Pennsylvania (Obama up 13.4), Florida (Obama up 5), Nevada (Obama up 3), New Mexico (Obama up 7.3), Colorado (Obama up 5.2), Wisconsin (Obama up 10.4), and Michigan (where McCain pulled his campaign out altogether, and Obama is up double digits).

The electoral map is full of toss-up states which should be solid Republican states. In fact, Obama is currently leading in no fewer than 9 states which George Bush carried in 2004.

If McCain doesn’t change the game dramatically, he will lose the election in a land-slide. Tonight is his last best opportunity. The question now, as it was eight days ago, is can he change the game?

The answer is still no.

The remaining question for debate-watchers is, will McCain even try? I believe he will.

McCain’s last big choice will be settled tonight. Will he stay above the fray, remain “Presidential,” only delivering soft blows to Obama tonight while attempting to explain what kind of President he would be? Or will McCain abandon his years-long “good guy” persona, and instead take over as chief Republican pit bull, and attempt to deliver a body blow to Obama which will cause voters to take a second look at their options?

Make no mistake – neither option is a winner for McCain. If he doesn’t attack hard, he will lose. Swing voters who currently seem to have few remaining doubts about Obama will have no reason to begin doubting. If he does attack hard, while he may solidify the same Republican-leaning voters who came home after the Palin V.P. choice was named, McCain will cut himself off from the very swing voters he needs to even compete in this election.

Down-ballot Republicans nation-wide need McCain to attack. They need the Republican faithful to come home and vote for them. The cost to McCain beyond this election, however, would be great. McCain invested years in his “above the partisan fray” branding, and if he attacks tonight, he will have abandoned all hope to maintain it.

Still, I think McCain would rather leave it all out on the field than concede, so I think he will attack. If he doesn’t, he would be ignoring the advice of campaign consultants who hate to lose and detest leaving cards un-played, and of the Republican candidate class which desperately needs him to round up their base and deliver it. If I’m wrong and he doesn’t attack, it will only be because he has decided for himself that he can lose in a landslide with honor, because history will blame George W. Bush, not McCain, for destroying the Republican brand (which I personally believe is the wise choice, and the accurate historical prediction).

If he does decide to attack, we’ll know it in the first 5 minutes of the show. Look for McCain to imply that Obama is trying to steal the election (key word: ACORN). Look for McCain to imply that Obama hates America (key word: Ayers).

Further complicating things for McCain is that moderator Bob Schieffer is bound to be far less passive than previous debate moderators Jim Lehrer, Tom Brokaw, and V.P. debate moderator Gwen Ifill.

The greatest difficulty of all for John McCain is in controlling John McCain. I believe the biggest under-reported story from the second debate was that McCain almost lost control. One could see it in his face during the “that one!” moment. You could sense the frustration and tension in him throughout the second half of the show, and one could certainly sense it as he ignored Obama’s offered hand-shake following the debate, and as he and Cindy McCain left the set immediately thereafter, while the Obamas stayed for 15 more minutes, signing autographs and taking pictures with audience-members. If McCain isn’t very careful, he could have a campaign-ending melt-down.

Meanwhile, against this backdrop of seemingly-insurmountable difficulty for McCain, all Obama must do is avoid major gaffes and stave off the McCain-introduced notion that Obama is a risky and untested choice.

Sound familiar? It didn’t work for the Democratic field in the primaries either.


Post debate update: McCain did indeed attack attack attack, and sure enough, it didn’t work work work. The overnight CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll results:

Who won?
Obama: 58%
McCain: 31

Favorable rating:
Obama: 66% (up 3)
McCain: 49% (down 2)

Who was better on the economy?
Obama: 59
McCain: 35

Who was better on taxes?
Obama: 56
McCain: 41

Who seemed more like a typical politician?
Obama: 35
McCain: 54

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