Nov 05 2008

About that time I saw Barack Obama get elected president in the wee hours of the morning in Switzerland…

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Maybe when it’s not past 4am in Switzerland I’ll have some deep thoughts. But for now…

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

(Jackie just called me “captain obvious” for the caption. Relatedly, credit for the caption goes to Carrie. I like it!)

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Nov 04 2008

About that time I tried to vote for Barack…

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With the fate of the free world in the balance, and Jackie informing me that a post about why you should be optimistic isn’t terribly original, I’m going to blog about our experience as American voters abroad.

The most obvious difference is the time. As you can see from the “Time en Suisse” gadget on the left, we’re 6 hours ahead of EST. During the Democratic Convention in Denver, staying up to watch in real time wasn’t really an option, so we listened to the speeches the next morning. Not that I’m complaining. After all, at the time we were staying in a chalet in the Swiss Alps. The debates were a bit more annoying to watch later, and as a result the only one I really watched from start to finish was the last presidential debate, with the Democrats Abroad of Lausanne. Watching the debate with Democrats Abroad was fun, but usually when I’ve waited 24 hours to watch a debate it’s because I’ve decided that instead of actually watching it, I’ll just watch Jon Stewart make fun of it on the Daily Show.

Otherwise, I follow the election the same way I always follow politics: through a copious consumption of blogs. (For a small sampling, check the “Seth is Reading” gadget on the left.) I’ve also listened to a fair amount of BBC, and if I’m really desperate, there are a lot of NPR streams online. I caught a great speech on Minnesota Public Radio the other day by Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP. And then I found out the weather in Edina.

My advice for tomorrow is that if you’re stuck watching CNN, head over to Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, or FiveThirtyEight for real time, better informed and all around more interesting coverage, with no commercial breaks.

So why the title about that time I tried to vote? Well, dutifully following the instructions on, Jackie and I both sent in our absentee ballot requests six weeks ago. We also included our Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots. Here’s the scoop, from a Democrats Abroad e-mail:

In 1976, Democrats Abroad member David Froelich waited. His ballot finally turned up after Election Day. Frustrated over being disenfranchised by mail delays, he secured his congressman’s support so that when the same thing happened again in 1980, his writein ballot was validated in court. But Dave did not stop there. He worked with several congressmen on bipartisan legislation ensuring that the right to a writein ballot would be extended to all registered U.S. voters living abroad, without a court battle.

Dave’s hard work finally paid off in 1986, when Ronald Reagan signed legislation making the Federal Writein Absentee Ballot (FWAB) available to all overseas voters who have properly applied for their ballots.

Interesting sidenote: Froelich is a former chair of Democrats Abroad in Israel, and I think he still lives in Israel. In any case, much like Froelich, we waited, and waited. Probably too long. Finally, last week, both Jackie and I called our local election boards. Evanston is in Cook County (home to Chicago), but the old and tired “vote early, vote often” is apparently extinct. They told me they’d never received my request, so I should send it again. Boo! Mail between the U.S. and Switzerland is good, but not that good, so I sent in the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot again. So actually, I did kind of vote early, and then when that failed…often.

Jackie, on the other hand, was told by Essex County that she could request an e-mail ballot online! She requested one that day and the next day a ballot arrived as a PDF in her e-mail. Print, vote, scan, e-mail, done! You’re also supposed to mail it, for good measure, but it’s unclear what that means.

So that’s the story. A few other items of note: today at work we were talking about the origins of ballots. I did a quick Google search and came up with a promising result on Google:

Notice anything strange? I didn’t. Just looks like something from the New York Times. Surprise! It’s a story from Sunday, November 3, 1912. Exactly 96 years ago to the day. The Sunday before the Election of 1912! And it’s not just a summary of the story—apparently the New York Times has opened up their archives—you can see a PDF of the original article. It’s a really weird article, at least read a century later. Was it the style then to include relevant poetry in news stories? Here’s the poem, an ode to the ballot box by John Pierpont (the maternal grandfather of J. P. Morgan):
A weapon that comes down
as still as snowflakes fall upon the sod
But executes a free man’s will
as lightning does the will of God.
And from it’s force not doors nor locks
Can shield you; ‘Tis the ballot box.


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Nov 02 2008

About that time I met Barack…

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Judging by e-mails to me and comments left on my facebook wall, I’m apparently four months over due for writing this post. If you’re impatient, The Picture is at the end. I hope this serves as a distraction for those who are anxious about Tuesday. Of course, a better distraction would be to go knock on doors or phonebank.
Continue Reading »

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Oct 29 2008

Israel at 1:08 (“It’s strictly up to you!”)

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Below is a fantastic, catchy campaign ad for JFK from 1960. Notice anything around 1:08?

Now watch this video at the same spot (1:08):

“כן אנו יכולים” (ken anu yecholim, “yes we can,” in Hebrew)

Thanks to Josh, whose away message contained the JFK clip. Incidentally, while Googling for this post I came across this poster, “Yes Oui כן,” which perfectly sums up the status of Jackie and me as Jewish Obama voters in a French-speaking country.

Update: Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber) isn’t fooled. (via M.J.)

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