Tag Archive | "2012 elections"

Why the Romney campaign was gobsmacked after losing

The Romney campaign was clueless, arrogant  and believed their own polls rather than the more objective independent polls. I’m convinced that the incompetents they had doing polls for them simply told the Romney campaign what it wanted to hear while collecting fat fees. This was made worse by their determined and persistent delusion that the electorate was comprised primarily of well-off, middle-aged, conservative Anglo males.


In a TV interview [Romney campaign manager Stuart] Stevens said the Romney campaign didn’t do a good enough job reaching out to Latinos and women. To which we say, hey, don’t sell yourself short. You did a bang-up job of reaching out to Latinos and women – telling Latinos to self-deport themselves and women to slap on chastity belts.

Posted in News

Obama campaign tech infrastructure made Romney look lame

Amazon Web Services and the cloud allowed the Obama campaign to focus on building applications rather than maintaining infrastructure

The Obama campaign used open source and the cloud to build a highly efficient powerhouse tech infrastructure. It was done in-house too, not outsourced, which gave them more control. They hired the best and the brightest, with good results. The online fundraising module, for example, was bulletproof – hardened, massively redundant, not dependent on other modules, and designed to keep operating even if its own database failed.

By contrast, the Romney campaign outsourced everything and the idiots in charge didn’t even test the system to track voters. Instead it went live at 6 AM on Election Day and unsurprisingly crashed spectacularly. Romney boasted about being a businessman who could get things done yet his own tech infrastructure was ineptly planned and executed, making numskull rookie mistakes.

Key in maximizing the value of the Obama campaign’s IT spending was its use of open source tools and open architectures. Linux—particularly Ubuntu—was used as the server operating system of choice. “We were technology agnostic, and used the right technology for the right purpose,” VanDenPlas said. “Someone counted nearly 10 distinct DBMS/NoSQL systems, and we wrote something like 200 apps in Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, and Node.js.”

It also helped that the campaign, at least for internally developed applications, relied almost exclusively on Amazon Web Service for its infrastructure.

Using the Amazon cloud had huge advantages. The services are metered, you only pay for what you use, with no monthly fees. Servers scale instantly to meet any load. Plus, the campaign didn’t have to worry about maintaining the infrastructure because Amazon was doing it for them and thus could concentrate on building applications.

Emphasis added:

This is the difference,” VanDenPlas said, “between a well run professional machine and a gaggle of amateurs, posing in true Rumsfeldian fashion, who ‘don’t know what they don’t know.’ I would be shocked if such a chasm exists next cycle between the parties—these aren’t mistakes to be repeated if you want to do things like win elections.”

Posted in News

Orca vs Narwhal. Obama campaign did disaster planning

Narwhal, the computer infrastructure essential to the Obama campaign, was tested, re-tested, and subject to disaster scenarios. It performed perfectly. Contrast this to the bumbling Romney campaign that attempted a lightweight platform called Orca that they didn’t even test and which failed miserably, and you see the differences between the campaigns.

In fact, the day after the October 21 game day, Amazon services — on which the whole campaign’s tech presence was built — went down. “We didn’t have any downtime because we had done that scenario already,” Reed said. Hurricane Sandy hit on another game day, October 29, threatening the campaign’s whole East Coast infrastructure. “We created a hot backup of all our applications to US-west in preparation for US-east to go down hard,” Reed said.

This is a perfect example of the power of cloud computing. Amazon web services charges by usage and scales instantly to meet demand. This is ideal for campaign software which will have tremendous usage on Election Day. The campaign doesn’t have to buy and maintain hundreds of servers. Instead, they in effect rent them from Amazon (or Rackspace or Azure) on an as needed basis then shut it down when they’re done. This means they can focus completely on the software they are creating (which clearly is something the Romney campaign in their arrogant cluelessness, didn’t do, focus on building a robust platform.)

Posted in News

Republican Gov. Jindal rejects Romney claims on ‘gifts’

Jindal is absolutely correct here. His pointblank rejection of Romney’s sore loser claims shows that Romney is now a has-been with little or no remaining juice or power. A now-doddering formerly Alpha male has been swatted aside by a new pack leader.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal forcefully rejected Mitt Romney’s claim that he lost because of President Barack Obama’s “gifts” to minorities and young voters.

“No, I think that’s absolutely wrong. Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote. And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream.”

Romney’s self-serving statements about why he lost the election show him to be near-delusional and nasty as well. He blamed everyone but himself, even when he arguably ran one of the most inept campaigns in recent memory.

Posted in News

Romney ORCA failure shows ineptness of campaign

The abject failure of ORCA, the online Romney campaign tool for tracking votes on election day, highlights how the campaign had no freaking idea what it was doing and was probably arrogantly overconfident as well. Romney wanted to run the country when his campaign couldn’t even manage to put a working piece of software online? Gimme a break…

ORCA could not have been tested. It was dumped on thousands of poll watchers and volunteers on election day with little explanation, no contingency plans or backup systems, and it mostly failed. This is beyond a rookie mistake. It shows the Romney campaign were ignoramuses about online systems and the need for testing and that no one with any actual competence was in charge of the project. Further, it appears that a primary reason for its failure was vicious internal fights between the various consultants and staffers. Romney championed himself as a seasoned and experienced businessman yet his campaign , which certainly should be run like a business, failed spectacularly in any number of areas.

I develop accounting packages for businesses, specializing in converting legacy Clipper and FoxPro to Windows. A client is about to go live with a replacement accounting package I wrote that will do all their accounting and invoicing. We’ve been testing and refining it for weeks in a work environment. It’s ready to go.

My client and I have done extensive testing. The Romney campaign clearly did none for ORCA. It blew up in their faces and showed them to be, despite all their bluster about knowing how to run businesses, not much more than an incompetent clown show.

Posted in News

Romney poll watcher on their Election Day failures and meltdowns

Credit: plunderbund

A Romney poll watcher details the near catastrophic level of disorganization on election day when an online and centralized system of checking who voted failed massively and clearly had not been tested.

The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA

What is Project Orca? Well, this is what they told us:

“Project ORCA is a massive undertaking – the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.”

Pretty much everything in that sentence is false

Not only did the online system not work, poll watchers received no information about where to get their poll watcher certificates, which meant they could not legally watch at the polls. Team Romney said ORCA was an app, which caused many to look for it in app stores. But it was a website, not an app. Worse, the http: address of the website didn’t forward to the https: address so many thought the website was non-functional.

Plunderbund agrees.

Combine this failure [of ORCA] with the campaign’s unorthodox choice of holding rallies in Ohio and Pennsylvania on election day, taking hundreds, if not thousands, of staff and volunteers away from vital GOTV activities, it’s clear many of Team Romney’s wounds were self-inflicted.

I can’t help but contrast this to ’92 when I was a Clinton precinct captain in Los Angeles. Organizers said poll workers would have an updated list of who had voted every hour or so, that we could read it, and to call if they refused to let us.

One of my precincts refused to let me read the list. I called the number. They had a lawyer there in 15 minutes and I got to read the list.

In contrast to the apparently bumbling Romney campaign, Obama had well-organized voter registration drives in African-American areas through barber shops and beauty salons, church members, and more. Did Romney even attempt anything like this?

The apparent almost complete failure by Team Romney to get out the vote on Election Day shows a campaign that didn’t really understand the internet and technology. They rushed a crucial website out with no testing and little or no explanation of how poll watchers, some who were probably in their seventies and eighties, were to use it, and had no backup plan or help available when it began to fail.

Posted in News

Elections have consequences: cheating fails, but does reality win?

Election 2012 probably doesn’t prove anything. But it provides some evidence for the hopeful proposition that even when the game is rigged, the cheaters lose. Elections have consequences.

  • MONEY.  Even though the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowed gross amounts of money (almost $6 billion) from known and unknown donors to distort the process, few elections near the top of the ballot appear to have been bought.  But the down-ballot races may be most of the iceberg.

Big money may not have overwhelmed the electoral system in 2012, but that’s far from saying big money doesn’t control too much of government and too many public officials.

  • PROCESS.  Even though hyper-partisan Republican legislators, election officials, and outside groups made a concerted effort by a variety of means to suppress voting by likely Democratic-leaning constituencies, there was sufficient pushback from the courts, the Justice Department, and professional election officials to allow the democratic process to function pretty well.

Something like a fair and open election seems to have taken place in 2012, but the people who attacked the process mostly remain in power.  Their gerrymandered Congressional districts will remain in place till the next census, in 2020. Unless these people begin to re-think their beliefs, they will continue to have strong motivation to skew the electorate in any way they can, and they will likely try.

Perceiving Reality Remains a National Challenge 

The results of Election 2012 may also support a second hopeful proposition that: denying reality is not as good a path to political victory as it used to be.

Maybe.  There are portents, some straws in the wind:

  • OBSTRUCTIONISM.  Republicans in Congress (and out) preferred to perpetuate economic suffering rather than risking the perception that the President had any success.  Enough of a less than grateful nation understood this treacherous blackmail to prevent it from succeeding.
  • CLIMATE.  Nobody talked about the climate, and nobody did anything about it, either.  Then Hurricane Sandy helped the President win re-election.  The big money still backs denial and continued planetary destruction.
  • WOMEN.  Maybe it’s not God’s will when rape produces pregnancy.  Candidates who believed it was ended up losing races they could have won.  That was the will of the electorate.
  • MARRIAGE.  The idea that two people who want to get married should have that right in modern America was endorsed by electorates for the first time.  False gender stereotypes and appeals to a false notion of “traditional marriage” lost some of their power to cloud people’s minds.
  • MARIJUANA.  “Reefer Madness” propaganda failed to persuade voters in two states.  The dishonesty and stupidity of the “war on drugs” is becoming obvious to a majority of Americans.  Does that majority include the President yet?
  • RACE.  Years of overt and covert racism failed to prevent the President’s re-election.  Is the country post-racial yet?  Hardly.  But people who agree with what Bill O’Reilly means when he says, “it’s not a traditional America anymore,” are part of a slowly contracting minority.

Some scales have fallen from some eyes, but the country still suffers from many chronic delusions.  Probably the most dangerous is the near hysterical fear of Iran having a nuclear weapon.  We also remain deluded about the efficacy of nuclear weapons generally, as well as the rationality of nuclear power.  And we still imagine that we’re so exceptional that we can – and should – work our will anywhere we want in the world.  Even if we could, it wouldn’t be a good idea.

The totality of the election was not a victory so much as an escape from defeat.  But there were enough smaller, real victories across the country to make the larger victory seem almost possible again.

Posted in News

Obama reelection. Pardon me for intruding on the perkiness

The Obama reelection will change little.  This was a pretend election. The presidential candidates pretended to engage on issues.

Neither candidate said anything substantive about the deficit or how to end the recession. Both studiously avoided any mention of enforcing existing criminal laws against obviously guilty banksters. Not a word was said about the serious menace of the drug cartels and the Eurozone crisis.

Little if anything will change.

Election 2012: How the winner will destroy America

Whoever the “winner” happens to be is ultimately irrelevant. They do not count. They are mascots. Middle management cronies running through the motions to distract the masses while enacting the policies of their superiors. They are fry cooks serving greasy overpriced democracy with no real sustenance. What does matter, though, is what comes next. I’m sorry to say that the idea that one man will do less damage than the other is a naïve sentiment. Democrat? Republican? Obama? Romney? The crimes and calamities wrought will be exactly the same. Take a look into my crystal ball and see the future. Here is how the winner will destroy America…

Bill Black: Wall Street urges Obama to commit the great betrayal

Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it (a process that would occur over a number of years) by legitimizing the claim that the safety net must be cut. Obama may not intend to unravel the safety net. He may have been convinced by Wall Street that it is necessary to begin to unravel the safety net in order to save it. But the result would be to declare open season on the safety net by legitimizing the false Republican memes that the safety net is unsustainable and harms the nation.

Posted in News

Race baiting and other scams in Texas

The headline was a grabber — “BREAKING: NAACP Takes Over Houston Polling Station, Advocates for President Obama.”

The report that followed was certainly alarming:  on November 2, it said, people in NAACP shirts brought bottled water to voters at a polling place, then they moved some voters to the front of the line, spoke out for President Obama, and “basically ran” a Houston, Texas, polling place while poll workers did nothing — according to Katie Pavlich in Townhall.com on November 3.  The bias, inaccuracy, and speed with which this story spread on the internet is a case study of dishonest journalism.

Pavlich had not observed the reported event or interviewed any of the participants.  She based her story on the written “incident report” of an interested party, Eve Rockford, reportedly a poll watcher for the judicial campaign of attorney Don Self.   Rockford was trained by True The Vote, a self-proclaimed voter fraud watchdog based in Houston.  Pavlich provided no other confirmation of the story and did not respond to a request to do so two days later.

By that time Pavlich’s story had been picked up and repeated, often verbatim, by the Drudge Report and dozens of partisan Republican internet sites, including GOPUSA on November 5, with the headline: “NAACP Takes Over Polling Location.”  GOPUSA is a private company whose mission is to spread the conservative message throughout America, according to its website.

Houston Chronicle Makes Stab At Getting Story Right

That same day, the Houston Chronicle started to outline a more credible account in a brief story by Mike Morris , that began: “A disturbance at the busy Acres Homes early voting location Friday night was related to representatives of the NAACP protesting long wait times for disabled voters, county officials said Sunday.” Pavlich hadn’t mentioned that there were disabled voters, or that those were the voters who were being moved to the front of the line.   Eve Rockford hadn’t mentioned disabled people in her affidavit, which provided an altogether imprecise and unclear account of what may have happened.

Doing basic due diligence, Morris called county officials, although it’s not clear from his reporting which, if any of them were present for the “disturbance.”  Asked about the initial story, Assistant County Attorney Douglas Ray confirmed that NAACP representatives were complaining about the long waiting time for disabled people and trying to move them to the front of the line.  But Ray told Morris:  “It wasn’t like they were taking control of the place. It wasn’t like we did nothing about it. That’s just not true at all.”

As “Disturbances” Go, Not That Disturbing

Ray acknowledged that when poll officials intervened with the NAACP representatives, the scene grew heated, but that officials were able to calm it down and restore proper procedures in relatively short order.  There were no arrests.  The police were not even called.

That Friday, November 2, in Houston was the last day of early voting at 37 early voting precincts where long lines outside the polling place were common.   The temperature was in the eighties, with a high of 87, under partly cloudy skies with a light southerly wind.  At the Home Acres Multi-Service Center, where the disturbance occurred, more than 2,500 voters voted that day, with polls remaining open till 10 pm across the city.  As Eve Rockford’s affidavit described that Friday afternoon:   “At 2:25 the NAACP 3 representatives arrived with probably 50 cases of bottled water and began loading them on dollies handing them out to people standing in line.”

Reporter Morris was unable to reach Rockford for comment and was not able to confirm that hers was a real name for a real person.  When he talked to True The Vote, who trained Rockford, that organization referred him to the Self-for-Judge campaign.

True The Vote Has a Contradictory Reality 

True The Vote is a Houston-based, self-described “citizen-led effort to restore truth, faith, and integrity to our elections,” founded in 2009.  It joined Facebook in March 2011, where it links to sites like  as Townhall.comBreitbart.com, and Election Law Center (“more red than the ivory tower”) that has just filed a suit against the “Democrat Party” for alleged election law violations, including “a near take-over of a polling location by members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Incidents were so blatant that the NAACP members were actually moving people forward in line to vote ahead of other voters.”

True The Vote calls itself “a non-partisan initiative to educate and train citizens to work within our electoral system to restore honor and integrity to the electoral process,” but its website and Facebook page are dominated by partisan Republican, Tea Party, and evangelical voices to the exclusion of others.

The founder and president of True the Vote is Catherine Engelbrecht who married oilman Bryan Engelbrecht in 2008, the same year she launched her Facebook page.  The Engelbrechts are two of the three directors of True The Vote,.  The organization’s 990 filing with the IRS shows that Catherine works 40 hours a week, while each of the other directors works just one hour a week, but all work without compensation.  True The Vote reported income of $136,057 and expenses of $224,942 for 2011.

Iran To Go Nuclear In Less Than A Month!” 

The Engelbrechts are also directors of True The Vote’s parent organization, King Street Patriots, which they founded in 2009 and put on Facebook the same year, announcing “nullification” as their first principle.  The sites feature the same circle of right wing activists as True The Vote, but with many more attacks on President Obama and posts like this from April 13, 2010: “Iran to go nuclear in less than a month!”

2010 was also the year Catherine Englbrecht “discovered” that the New Black Panther Party was operating in Houston – only it wasn’t.    In making that claim, she was accusing a voter registration group, Houston Votes, who later sued her for defamation.  At about the same time, Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez was accusing Houston Votes of being  “our area’s new ‘ACORN’ organization” for submitting more that 5,000 deficient deficient voter registration applications, which Houston Votes emphatically denied.

True The Vote set out to wage war against voter fraud in 2012, but its efforts have been slowed by the difficulty of finding actual voter fraud in the United States.  In September, the New York Times publish a lengthy report by Stephanie Saul, highlighting some of True The Vote’s credibility problems, including  its claims of busses full of illegal voters in San Diego or Wisconsin, claims that appear to have had no basis in fact.

Any Unchallenged Falsehood Might Appear Credible

Failing to find witches tends to slow any witch hunt, but True The Vote hasn’t given up by any means.  Its newest post on its website trumpets the “nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization” effort to join the federal lawsuit against Florida, on the side of the state’s effort to purge its voter rolls.

At the end of its recent press release, True The Vote states that:  “True the Vote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Houston, TX has developed an exportable model with which to train poll workers across the country and equip grassroots leaders and volunteers for involvement at every stage of the electoral process. The organization promotes ideas that actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation.”

Without a lot more honest and aggressive reporting by mainstream media, too many people are likely to think those might be true statements.

Posted in News

Romney lies about Chrysler, GM – gets kneecapped in return

When the presidential candidates are calling each other liars or something close to that, that’s hardly new – but a major American corporation all but calling a presidential candidate a liar, when did that happen before?  Never mind happening twice.  In one week.  Romney lies is their clear message.

Widespread coverage of the story of the Chrysler Corporation’s flat contradiction of Mitt Romney’s campaign assertions, followed by General Motors doing the same, suggests that such sharp corporate responses are unprecedented.  Certainly the relationship of these corporations to the Republican Party are far removed from the time when one of President Eisenhower’s cabinet members said that “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa” (although the urban legend version has him saying “what’s good for General Motors is good for America”).

The catalyst for these sharp corporate reactions came on October 25, in Defiance, Ohio, when Mitt Romney told a campaign rally:  “I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China.”  [emphasis added]

Romney’s Comment Was Not True

That was not true.  The Bloomberg story stated:  “Chrysler currently builds all Jeep SUV models at plants in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. [Chrysler] referred to adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”  [emphasis added]

Chrysler executive Gualberto Ranieri responded promptly to Romney campaign comment with a blog statement that used  italics for emphasis:  “Let’s set the record straight:  Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China….  A careful and unbiased reading of the Bloomberg take would have saved unnecessary fantasies and extravagant comments.”

Ranieri called Romney’s conclusion “a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.”  Romney neither responded not retracted the  comment.

On October 28, the Romney campaign came out with a television ad that kept pushing the story, with more carefullycrafted language, but continued controversy.   Firedoglake reported that the ad is “ so false that, as you can see by the title of the video, it’s posted on youtube by people opposed to Romney.”

Chrysler’s CEO Objected At Length

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne went public on October 30 in a lengthy email that began:  “Chrysler Group’s production plans for the Jeep brand have become the focus of public debate.  I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China….”  [emphasis added]

After mentioning specifics of Chrysler’s production infrastructure, Marchionne concluded his email by saying:  “Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand.  It is inaccurate to suggest anything different….”  [emphasis added]

Romney and his campaign have declined to discuss the Jeep statement on the record, despite repeated questionsfrom reporters.  Romney continued making variations of his initial claim in stump speeches, and his campaign issued a radio ad that went further, and claimed General Motors (GM) was also shipping jobs to China:  “Under President Obama, GM cut 15,000 American jobs, but they are planning to double the number of cars built in China, which means 15,000 more jobs for China.  And now comes word that Chrysler plans to start making Jeeps in, you guessed it, China.”

“The ad is cynical campaign politics at its worst,” said General Motors spokesman Greg Martin:  “We think creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back in this country should be a source of bipartisan pride.” [emphasis added]

GM said: “Campaign Politics at its Cynical Worst”

GM spokesman Martin also said: “We’ve clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country.”

By October 31, the Denver Post joined other newspapers around the country, including the Toledo Blade, the Cleveland Leader, the Youngstown Vindicator and two Detroit papers criticizing Romney for “falsehoods and half-truths” (Denver), “blatant lies” (Cleveland), and “[making] things up out of whole cloth” (Youngstown).  FactCheck.orgcalled Romney “flat wrong” in his original comment on Jeep going to China, while the National Legal and PolicyCenter (NLPC — which “promotes ethics in public life”) argued that Romney was right and the media are biased.

Although NLPC quotes an ambiguous section from the original Bloomberg story to bolster its argument, it  goes on to omit the Bloomberg clarification later in the same story about “adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.”

According to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank on October 31:

“It’s difficult to quantify a candidate’s relationship with the facts, but The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, has calculated that, for much of the campaign, Romney and Obama were roughly even in their prevarications until the past few months.  Back in May, Romney’s average “Pinocchio” rating from Kessler was 1.97 on a scale of 0 to 4. Obama was at 1.91. Now, Obama is at 2.11 and Romney is at 2.40 — putting him at the level of hogwash perpetrated during the primaries by Rick Perry (2.41) and Newt Gingrich (2.44)….  Romney is in a whole new category….  When is comes to truth, Romney still lives in Defiance.”   

Posted in News


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