Paths to Victory

With just twelve days left in this most contentious of presidential campaigns, the incumbent holds a lead of 26 electoral votes over his challenger in states that strongly favor their candidates.

Obama is strongly favored in California, Oregon, and Washington (a Democrat hasn't lost a West Coast state since 1988, when George H. W. Bush rode the popularity of the Reagan Administration into his only term), New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, and his home-state of Hawai'i, for a total of 217 electoral votes. Romney, meanwhile, is strongly favored in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and West Virginia, for a total of 191 electoral votes.

No states currently lean Republican, but three states lean Democratic at this point in the race: Nevada (with 6 EV), Wisconsin (with 10 EV), and Pennsylvania (with 20 EV). Another seven states - New Hampshire (4), Iowa (6), Colorado (9), Virginia (13), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), and Florida (29) - could fall in either direction. As of this morning, Pennsylvania supports Obama 50%-44%, Ohio supports the President 48%-46%, and Florida supports Romney 47%-48%, so the incumbent's most likely path to a second term seems to be through the Keystone State. That said, he could get back to the White House through one of four broad lanes of victory, one of which is a rather narrow avenue.

To win, the President will have to take one of the three big states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida - or, failing that, he will have to take both North Carolina and Virginia. With Pennsylvania appearing likely to go blue, a solely Keystone Path would require at least five small toss-up states to cross the 270 threshold. Among those states must be Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire: adding in Wisconsin (where the Democrat enjoys a 50%-46% lead) would give Obama 272 electoral votes, adding in Virginia (where the Democrat has a 48%-47% edge) would give him 275 electoral votes, or adding in North Carolina (where the Republican enjoys a 49%-47% lead) would give him 277 electoral votes.

An Appalacian Path to victory, in which the President takes both Pennsylvania and Ohio, would necessitate two smaller states - Wisconsin and Nevada would give him 271 electoral votes; Virginia and New Hampshire would give him 272 electoral votes; Colorado and either Iowa or Nevada would give him 270 electoral votes - or a victory in North Carolina, which would also give him 270 electoral votes. A Keyshine Path to victory, in which the President takes both Pennsylvania and Florida, would require a win in only one smaller state: winning New Hampshire would give him 270 electoral votes, while winning Iowa or Nevada would give him 272 electoral votes. A so-called Sunstone path, in which the President sweeps Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, would give him 284 electoral votes.

If Obama can only manage to win Ohio, then a solely Buckeye Path would require wins in four or five smaller states, including at least Nevada, Wisconsin, and Iowa. If he also takes Virginia, he'll reach 270 electoral votes; if he also wins Colorado and New Hampshire, he'll get to 270 electoral votes; if he also wins North Carolina, he'll wind up at 272 electoral votes. A so-called Buckshine Path, in which the President takes Ohio and Florida, would require only one smaller state for victory: winning colorado would give Obama 273 electoral votes, while winning Nevada or Iowa would give him an even 270 electoral votes.

If the President can only manage to win Florida, then a solely Sunshine Path would require wins in three or four small states, including at least Colorado. He can reach 271 electoral votes if he also wins both Wisconsin and Nevada, or Wisconsin and Iowa, or if he also wins Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

The most narrow road to victory is the Mideastern Path, in which the President must win both Virginia and North Carolina, as well as four or five more smaller states. Also taking Nevada, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire would give him the requisite 270 electoral votes; also winning Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire would give him 271 electoral votes; also winning Wisconsin, Colorado, New Hampshire, and either Nevada or Iowa would give him 274 electoral votes. Also winning Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado would give him 276 electoral votes, while a clean sweep of the seven smaller toss-up states would give the President a total of 280 electoral votes.

In short, the President must win every state in which he is strongly favored, as well as at least one of three big toss-up states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Florida - and at least three additional small states. Of the ten most contested states, Romney currently leads in only two: Florida and North Carolina. The President's most likely path to victory, then, goes through Appalacia: winning Pennsylvania (where he leads by 6%), Ohio (where he leads by 2%), Nevada and Wisconsin (both of which he leads by 4%) will give Obama 271 electoral votes. If, on the other hand, he manages to sweep every state in which he currently leads, he will amass 318 electoral votes, and another four years in the White House.
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The Moral Revolution

Tyler Durden called my generation "the middle-children of history," and claimed that "our great war is a spiritual war."

Our great war is a spiritual war, but it is not a battle for one's own soul. It is a battle for the soul of a nation that was founded on a shockingly simple premise: that all people are equal. That we all are endowed with certain inalienable rights. That among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is a battle against those who threaten to destroy the American premise with the disease of their own bigotries. It is a battle against those who seek to deny the freedoms of our fellow American citizens, who seek to define our fellow human beings as unworthy of the same happinesses and the same liberties that are ours by our very nature as self-aware creatures. It is a battle against those who devalue the lives of our fellow countrymen.

It is a battle against ideological terrorists. And it is a civil war.

Because the greatest threat to the American premise comes not from beyond our borders, but from self-righteous false prophets who walk among us. It comes from those who, under the cover of theology, have hijacked morality and twisted it to suit their own perverted ends. It comes from those who call themselves "Christians" while defying the shockingly simple teachings of the man called Jesus: loving your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others only as you would have them do unto you.

These false Christians have waged war on American principles for too long, shrouding their own hatred and prejudices in a veil of artificial piety. For too long these false Christians have erroneously invoked the name of Jesus while ignoring his messages in an effort to deny the freedoms of American citizens. For too long, these false Christians have gone unchallenged by those too timid to offend the religious sensibilities of a self-proclaimed moral majority.

I challenge them. I reject their corrupt doctrines, and their sanctimonious proclamations. I reject the fraudulent and unethical notions that they dare to call "morality." I reject their vile attitude that America belongs to them alone, and the contemptible idea that those with contrary opinions are merely tolerated by this collective of false Christians. I reject their perversion of Christianity, as should anyone who understands the teachings of the man called Jesus. I reject their attempt to reshape a religion to suit their own personal beliefs in order reshape a nation into their own twisted image. And I refuse to tolerate their bigotry.

True students of the man called Jesus share my outrage. It is the name and message of their savior and teacher, after all, that are being twisted distorted by these false Christians. The policies of persecution and inequality are not Christlike values, they are not American values, and they are not moral values. And the time has come to reclaim morality from the false Christians of this nation who have taken it hostage. I love the American premise too deeply and truly, and those who disagree with the shockingly simple tenets of equality and liberty of my nation are encouraged to leave it.

Those false Christians who promote an agenda of discrimination have no place here. Their personal beliefs are at variance with the spirit of the American premise. It is not for them to reshape this nation in order to make it conform to their un-American, un-Christian views. Those who endorse intolerance and inequity dream of a country entirely unlike America, and it is not for them to destroy the country that our forefathers created, or to replace it with one fashioned in their own twisted image. Because as the Republican politician Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1859, "those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it."

Those false Christian who seek to deny my fellow American citizens their basic freedoms have continued down their destructive path for far too long. And if there is one concept that believers in the American premise will never, ever abandon, it is freedom. Our forefathers fought a revolution to defend the self-evident truth that all people are equal. Our nation was born in gunpowder and blood. In the words of a modern American patriot and freethinker, "this is a country of revolutionaries."

So let the moral revolution begin.

Sonnets and Heroes and Dragons? Oh, My.

You may have noticed that a couple of entries have mysteriously gone missing.

That's because I have amended, once more, my goals for `2012. I'm a Libra; I'm capricious; it's what we do. As it turns out, writing sonnets is not quite as easy for me now as it once was. I'm not sure if that's a comment on the quality of my sonnets then or my talent as a poet now, but in either case, I have decided to postpone The Year of the Sonnet again. I haven't decided whether I'll pick it up next year or wait for the next leap year or just put it off until I feel the Muse's gentle caress down the back of my neck, but that's mostly because I'm apt to change my mind about any "decision" I make on the matter.

I won't call this endeavor a total loss. I came out of January with 22 new sonnets. Some of them are rubbish. A few are good. One is truly great, and it's one worth sharing, so I offer, in lieu of 366 sonnets or 384 sonnets, just one really excellent sonnet:

         The sweetest breath of January air
         that ever sighed itself against my cheek
         could only dream of being half as fair
         as every single syllable you speak.
         The morning eye of everburning gold
         that blooms beyond the borders of the day
         is dimmed when it endeavors to behold
         the piercing iridescence you display.
         The everbending depths of winter skies
         expand unceasingly, and meditate
         on whether they could hope to memorize
         cerulean reflections you create.
            The beauty of the universe is true
            because it draws magnificence from you.

So with The Year of the Sonnet off the table, I am concentrating instead on editing the first draft of The Danger of Being Me into a presentable second draft. The first draft currently runs 121,139 words, which works out to 414 pages of Book Antiqua 14-point font on 5"-by-8" pages. At the moment, I'm looking toward a second draft of about 90,000 words, which means I get to cut roughly 30,000 words, or about a quarter of the manuscript.

The vast majority of those cuts will come out of the first 50,000 words of the book, which is the narrative hotchpotch that I wrote over the course of a dozen years going back to the late-1990s. Some of the passages written by that teenage kid who used to be me are positively painful to read, and I'm frankly looking forward to carving away some of that literary fat. Since those first 50,000 words essentially serve as Act One in the story in the first place, the editing and rewriting that I do there will really just amount to getting rid of everything that isn't necessary to set up the events that take place in the last 70,000 words.

In this case, the excess verbiage happens to be about half of the wordcount, and I won't be sorry to see it go.

Writing: 1,209 words

After finishing up some of that writing-that-pays-now on Saturday night, I settled in to do some writing-that-pays-later on Sunday.

During the baby's three-hour nap, I managed to write 1,209 words, bringing my total manuscript up to 108,952 words, and banking 209 words.

I also, finally, emptied out the harddrive on my cellphone. I had 379 pictures and videos going all the way back to January of this year.

In other news: the Phillies came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Cardinals 11-6 on Saturday, but gave up a 4-0 lead to lose to the Cardinals 5-4 last night. So they're 4-and-6 in postseason Game 2's this millennium, and 3-and-2 in Division Series Game 2's.

Now back to some more of that writing-that-pays-now.