Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hope for the Holidays

Archway cookies are tasty, almost as tasty as... say... having a job. Huh? Yeah, well weird sentence, but I just thought I would toss up a link to a story I saw on CNN about an Archway cookie factory in Ohio that shut down because the venture capital folks who funded Archway had pulled the rug out from under them. In swooped a larger snack foods company that purchased Archway at a bankruptcy auction and voila! 60 people are hired back on to start the factory back up. Now, I may be biased because I've always liked their cookies, but this is a nice little heartwarming story for the holidays. Sure, the economy still sucks and things are looking a little bleak for the beginning of 2009, but all is not lost and there are still little glimmers of hope out there to be found.

Hooray for COOKIES!!!!

That's Right, AP!

The AP has chosen Tina Fey as their Entertainer of the Year, and I couldn't agree more. Among other laudatory things they had to say about this decision, the AP describes Fey as, "She is the epitome of the smart kid coming out on top for once."

Nice one guys. Anyway, this is a choice by the AP that I think really fits. Fey has been around for quite some time doing some remarkably excellent comedy even in difficult circumstances (read: the SNL cast over the past few years) but this year she really blew up. The existing success and hilarity of 30 Rock certainly laid a good groundwork, but then along came a... well... yeah, you betcha, set of circumstances that might as well have been out of a story book. (remember that fake movie trailer? Ok... Tina Fey didn't make that but still...)

Anyway, good choice AP. I agree.

Happy Festivus

It's a Festivus for the rest-of-us!!! Bring on the feats of strength!

Ahh... it's another Festivus miracle!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wazuuup with you this Christmas?

I caught this video on Facebook this morning, posted by a friend. While I think it was targeted to hit our eyeballs a little earlier than now, it seemed still worth posting. Wazuuuuuuuuuuuuup!?!?!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Listening Notes Preview: Ghazal, The Rain

I'll do a proper post about this recording later, but for now I just need to gush. I am listening to a CD by Ghazal. It is called the Rain. Ghazal is a duo of Kayhan Kalhor, the master of Persian classical music and Shujaat Huasain Khan, the master sitarist (and son of legendary Ustad Vilayat Hkan). the word "master" might be thrown around but in this case it is apt. These are truly gifted, dedicated individuals: think Yo-yo Ma, Glenn Gould, John Coltrane. This CD is the final one they made together, and it is a live performance. Three tracks, all improvised (unlike Western classical music, Indian and Persian music tends to have a great deal of improvisation).

I do not believe I have ever heard anything like this. It's almost unreal. The word ghazal is a kind of love poetry and this is a disc of poetry as well as music. It's about the union of earthly and divine love. This is music you play at night with candles burning, with someone you love. Or on a sunday morning while you wait for a snow storm to come. It's truly one of the most remarkable pieces of music I have ever heard. If you have ever loved music, if you have ever loved anything, you must hear this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Elves Cranking that Superman?

Not quite sure what to say about this one... but it sure is fun. I only wish there were a bit of the signature Crank that Superman dance. Oh well. Maybe the follow-up video will focus in more on the choreography.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The President Went to Iraq and All I Got Was This Nasty Shiner!

Ok... honestly there is something I find intriguing about all the press that Press Secretary Dana Perino's black eye is getting today. Still, I'm also apparently as intrigued as every reporter around, so I dug a bit today and saw some pictures, then I found my favorite piece of this story so far:

According to USA Today... awesome source, if there ever was one, Perino is referring to her bruise as her, "shoe-venir" from Iraq. Classic. Honestly, that's a really clever response to getting clunked in the eye with a microphone. I like it.

Anyway, the shoe throwing was the headline yesterday, today that's your news tidbit of the day.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Reason I Post (part 2): Cause Sometimes Life is REALLY Funny

Now I'm a Phillies fan. If you read the blog with any regularity (hard to do lately, I know, but I'll get some posts back up here, I promise... er... well... I'll try) you know that. As such, I've long past learned to never get too cocky about my team's fortunes. I'll always be grateful for any season over .500 after the dreary days of the mid-to-late 90's. Ugh.

Still, I think it's hilarious that the new off-season sensation in the NL East is guessing who on the Mets will "reclaim" the mantle of "team to beat" that Jimmie Rollins claimed for the Phillies two seasons back. That's right, it's not even like he threw down that gauntlet last year, after season after the first time the Phillies visited the playoffs this decade. Nope, he made his prediction at a bold moment where the Phillies really needed a leader who would step up and say, "Hey everybody, we've got a pretty kickass team."

Now even Rollins' leadership didn't mean that the Phillies still didn't need a historic collapse by the Mets to get to the playoffs in 2007, but here we are looking down the start of 2009 Spring Training in oh... what... 3 months? It's two years later and the Mets have best the Phillies... how many times since? I'm sorry, it just cracked me up today when K-Rod, the newest Rod to be payed megabux by a NYC team rolled out his own cocky pronouncement, that the Mets are (very creative here), the "TEAM TO BEAT" in 2009.

Honestly, now that they've bought themselves a respectable bullpen, who knows? They just might be. I, however, think it's all pretty silly here in the dead of winter. Meanwhile, the Phillies are making some interesting moves of their own, so we'll see what is to come, but for now perhaps we should all just get ready for the Iggles on MNF, dontcha think?

Oh, and apologies to all the Mets fans I love. Nothing personal, let's just either a) see some original smack talk from your guys this off-season. Come on, look at Cole Hamels, he really took it up a notch, and yes what he said was kinda dirty in just the right way. OR b) let's wait until at leas Spring Training starts so that we can have some actual non transactional reason to talk smack. Huh? Whatta ya say?

The Reason I Post (part 1): Cause Life is Funny

Seriously... funny. So I've been pretty scant with the posts lately, and right now I'm totally procrastinating on a boatload of work I need to still finish up for the day, but I couldn't resist contributing to the blogosphere's embrace of the now famed Iraqi Journalist/Shoe Thrower. I wasn't the genius who created this fake beer ad remixed from clips of the shoe throwing show, but I love it so much I couldn't resist sharing it with you and hoping you'll find someone to share it with as well:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I think "Fabulous" is the technical term to describe this video

This one is making the rounds, but I couldn't resist posting, and if you haven't already seen Proposition 8, the Musical, please check it out below. For those of you who may not have caught it already there are brilliant cameos from Neal Patrick Harris, Jack Black, John C. Reilly and the brilliant Allison Janney.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Even Though Gas is Back Under $2.00

The low price of gas is no reason for all of us to forget the importance of moving our nation in the right direction. I like what Thomas Friedman said in his NYT op-ed piece about the need to Green the Bailout, "...when this bailout is over, we need the next president — this one is wasted — to launch an E.T., energy technology, revolution with the same urgency as this bailout. Otherwise, all we will have done is bought ourselves a respite, but not a future."

Now I may have a new-found bias, working for a company that sells solar panels (a plug: if you're in CT and want to learn more, please contact me to learn more!) but bias aside, I think the group Repower America is providing a powerful clear and beautiful voice to the drive for America's government to take decisive action on energy. Check out this ad, and tell me you don't disagree.

If you'd like to see this ad air during this Sunday's 60 Minutes please consider donating to Repower America.

Philly Kids Go Crazy for Obama

I love to keep an eye on my home town, especially when some fun news comes my way from back home to make me smile. Unfortunately Philly doesn't always give me reason to smile, like when it was recently announced that Phillies star second baseman Chase Utley will miss a good chunk of the start of 2009's baseball season due to hip surgery. Luckily the other day I saw a piece on Huffington Post about how kids at a Philadelphia school caught sight of Barack Obama on the street (he was in town for a meeting of governors from across the nation) and just went nuts.

If you follow the link you can see the young folks screaming and reachign through a fence to try and shake hands with their soon-to-be leader. It's an electric little clip, and a reminder of the excitement that so many of us feel displayed in a very unfiltered and wonderful form. Thanks, kids in Philly.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Venice is alive and well

and reading the collected poems of W.S. Merwin. I've loved Merwin ever since discovering The Folding Cliffs in college. I've heard that his mature style eschews traditional forms for a rhythm that mimics human breath. My favourite poem by him is called "losing a language." I would try to find a copy and transcribe it (I assume that it is in the collection mentioned) but even if I was sure that would not violate copyright laws, I cannot bring myself to ask anyone to read poetry on a computer screen. It's bad for the eyes and the eyes, as we all know, are webcams into the soul or something. I leave you with this observation. the poem laments the loss of a language and the many things expressible in that language alone. one of these things is "the verb for I."So go to your local library and get a copy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mmmmm Turkey, hey, could you pass the Rick Rolls?

Was this part of your Thanksgiving conversation? It was if you watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! Wha? Please oh please, check it out below.

Amazing moments:
  • 1:50 when little Cartoon Network guys bounce around to the sweet sweet sounds of Astley

  • When the song finishes (1:56) and one of the cartoon characters says, "I love Rick Rolling"

  • When the erstwhile announcers describe (2:03) what you just saw as "Rick Astley singing the Rick Rolling phenom, 'Never Gonna Give You Up'." Seriously!?!?! There is basically no chance the announcer understood what that meant.
Ok, that's it. Happy Black Friday, everybody! I hope none of you got trampled at a local WalMart today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Add this one to the not-so-cuddly list

Over in China a 20-year old male student was at a zoo and decided that the panda bear in the cage could use some cuddle time. He hopped the fence into the panda's enclosure and frightened the bear so badly that the bear bit him all over his arms and legs. The guy is luckily ok, but I imagine he won't be back in the market for bear hugs anytime soon.

Things Ann Coulter has to be thankful for this week!

  1. A new book coming out soon to provide even more cash for her bed of cash where she lies and plots new and devious ways to be a nutbag jerk.
  2. Her jaw has been wired shut, so she has even more time to mull over creative ways to bash those fiendish dastardly liberals.
  3. She's a calendar girl.
Wow... I really can't think of anything nice to say about Ann Coulter. She's an awful and disgusting blowhard. Yup... that's it. Alright, moving on!

So So Good, why Wonkette + Star Wars always works

Yesterday the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department rolled out the second phase of the bailout where they don't even get congressional approval... they just toss a crap ton of more money on the problem. Awesome. If that doesn't sound exciting to you, check out Wonkette's coverage, where they throw a little Star Wars reference into the mix to make it all go down smooth. They're like Mary Poppins with a spoon full of sugar. Mmmmmmmm BAILOUT!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things that are fun and funny: Tirades!

No, seriously, they are! Check out this clip that didn't air on SNL but could/should have. It focuses on the reportedly firey temper of Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama's choice for chief of staff.

I especially like the nodding of the camera man around the 2 minute mark in the video, also the calm tone at the end.

Eagle Killers: Friends of Bush

So... today President pardoned a bunch of crooks and weirdos who have connections to the current administration, at least enough of a way to make it seem worth the President's while to drop their prison terms, etc. This is nothing out of the ordinary, in fact it's a pretty standard piece of the whole Presidency thing. Anyway, among the pardoned is some bozo who was in prison for killing bald eagles by poisoning them... so all I can do is ask this:

Is there a better metaphor for what the last 8 years have been about?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Where are my Colmes, damn it?

WWSHD? Not sure what that means? It means What will Sean Hannity do, now that Alan Colmes has announced that he's leaving the Faux News staple named for the two hosts. Honestly, I don't have much to say about Alan, or this news... honestly I've never paid much attention to the guy, but then again, who ever did?

He seems like a nice enough dude, which is probably why he worked so well as the soft-spoken guy who couldn't really turn up the fire to match Hannity's crazy.

UPDATE: Ok... so if you want to see Colmes go rogue and really stick it to Hannity check out video here. Nice to see the token really go after an issue, in the case of the video he's taking on the hipocracy of right wingers attacking John Edwards after his affair became public last year.

That Turkey Thing

Wow... so... apparently Sarah Palin has decided to keep making our lives more interesting even though she isn't a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Case in point? Um... yeah.

Ok... you've probably already seen that, huh? Oh well. Just tryin' to catch up here.

UPDATE: Letterman took up turkeygate last night in his top 10! Meet the new Joe the _________, America.

Well... hello there!

Hi folks! Damn, it's been a little while since the last post, huh? What happened? Anything?

Oh, right! That election happened! That was pretty fantastic, huh? Also, I started a brand new job, literally the next day. The new job is great, but as one might guess I have less time to blog than I did while I was unemployed and job hunting. First, let me say thanks to anybody who's still reading. After taking literally weeks off, I'm hoping some folks still check in.

I'll be trying to post on a somewhat regular basis now that the new job is evening out a bit and I'm getting the hang of my responsibilities, schedule, etc.

Meanwhile, I'll have to also diversify my content a bit as most of my posts prior to November 4th were focused on the election. I guess there's still some election stuff to talk about, in fact my favorite Senate seat is still up for grabs and it looks like there's some chance Al Franken may still grab it. We'll see.

I'll toss up a couple posts tonight and hopefully this will be the beginning of a new surge of bloggination. Sorry for the long long long long long layoff. I hope that you, like me, have been basking in the mere notion of being able to say, "President Obama" for the next four years. It has a nice ring, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Newsweek Wraps Up the Campaign

It's been out for a few days but if you were following the presidential campaign over the last two years, you owe it to yourself to check out Newsweek's seven-chapter "Secrets of the 2008 Campaign" wrap up of inside stories from the campaigns of Obama, McCain, and Clinton. They've assembled behind-the-scenes items that they agreed to keep off the record until after the election into a narrative of which I cannot get enough. Read the highlights for the most sensational items about hackers and phone calls between McCain and Clinton. Delve deeper for passages like this:

Obama's plane was taking off from Denver airport around 9 a.m. when Axelrod got confirmation that McCain had indeed picked Palin as his running mate. He went to the front cabin to tell Obama and his new running mate, Joe Biden. Biden asked, "Who's Palin?"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day News, Notes, Anecdotes, and Thoughts

Today I decided to do an almost live-blogging type thing. At 2:30 pm this afternoon I voted in New Haven, CT at a fire station that was fairly sleepy. Then again, likely most folks were out working. I start a new job tomorrow myself (very excited about that!). Meanwhile, I was speaking with a new co-worker this evening and she shared the following anecdote:

Apparently, while Barack Obama's grandmother passed away very late Sunday evening there is a tiny bit more to the story. A few days before she passed, she cast her absentee ballot for her grandson, whom she raised for significant parts of his childhood. I can think of few more breath-taking images to encapsulate this moment. Thinking of my own grandparents, god rest their souls, this story does give me very pleasant chills of family pride and connection and makes me again reflect on just how historic this day is. I've verified the story here, here and here.

Meanwhile, I was on Purple State Blog, one of my favorite politically-related blogs (and also an almost daily source for some sort of fun video) where they linked to the article, "I Didn't Vote for Obama Today," which is very much worth your time.

I'll post some more thoughts when I get opportunities between watching the results and having some dinner this evening. I don't know about you, but I'm excited. Here we go folks... this evening should be an interesting and hopefully a very exciting ride!

7:00 PM - Huffington Post has a nice slideshow of polling place and voting photos from today, and on the page linked above they have links to slideshows from today in the life of each candidate for Pres and VP. Meanwhile, CNN just called VT for Obama, Kentucky for McCain. Neither is a surprise.

7:05 PM - I just checked in on a cool interactive map over at Daily Kos, and on a fun side note, a friend of mine, Melissa, works for Free Range Studios, the design company that helped put this page together along with all the mechanisms that make it work. Oh, and CNN just predicted that Mark Warner (D) will win the open Senate seat in VA. Very cool! I'm a big fan of Mark Warner. Seems that VA will soon have 2 sitting Democratic Senators!

7:17 PM - CNN is now reporting the election via hologram technology! Princess Leia is live in the "Election Center" via hologram talking to Wolf Blitzer who is on the Death Star with a wookie. It's amazing. I'm... speechless. More later.

8:31 PM - Results continue to roll in. Looks like all of New England is going blue in the presidential race, and like the Senate seat in NH is going from R to D. Meanwhile, Liddy Dole is getting a gigantic run for her money in North Carolina and networks are calling PA for Obama (not a big surprise given recent poll results there have tended to all show Obama with a double-digit lead). The interactive map described above continues to get more and more and more interesting over time.

9:33 PM - From the comments: Shaheen just won NH.... BTW, This is only the second time in history that two Americans with Arabic names have faced each other in a senate race... I am proud of my home state!

Very cool, Venice! Meanwhile, NC continues to look good. Looks like Dole is flat-out done down there, unless something weird and big happens soon. What an interesting and exciting evening for socially progressive folks... in many ways more than usual I'm pretty speechless right now. Wow! MSNBC just called New Mexico for Udall in the Senate... interesting given the votes currently popping up. More to see here folks... definitely more to see.

10:55 PM - CNN calls VA for Obama... that means that he has 220 so with CA he has 275... 5 more than needed.

11:01 PM - CNN Fox and MSNBC call it for Obama. I'm so happy so elated... this is amazing.

11:06 PM - Perhaps even more amazing, the comentators on Fox News are talking about what a likable guy Obama is.

11:09 PM - MSNBC is gushing enough to make up for what I can't quite seem to form words around...

11:17 PM - I'm not going to lie, the image of Jesse Jackson crying tonight got me a little choked up. This really is a truly historic night, and while I've been looking forward to the history that might be made today, it is nice to have an image to really help drive home the massive significance.

11:23 PM - Can't keep up with live blogging it, but here a couple minutes into McCain's concession speech I am struck once again by just what a dignified, honorable, and remarkable guy he is. His kind words about Obama's grandmother, his words urging his supporters and fellow Americans to work together to help make change... just all around respectable and damn cool.

11:34 PM - Hi comments crew! I totally just realized that you all are here!!! It makes me so happy, and is anybody else a little overwhelmed right now??? I'm just so relieved an d happy, like something I had lost is coming back... my belief that something this good can happen ... kinda like the way things changed when I realized it was possible the Phillies just might win the World Series but on such a different scale... honestly, I'm totally losing composure. This is a very cool moment, and I'm glad that out there in cyberspace you all are taking it all in at the same time... I keep hoping that 56 number CNN is projecting for Dems in the Senate will keep going up... but I don't want to get greedy with what I hope for tonight!

12:15 AM - "To those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security we support you, and to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright, tonight we've proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals, democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Air Cars! Awesome

By 2011 tiny little "air-powered" cars may be scooting around the streets of your town, transporting folks to work running mainly on compressed air and getting roughly 105 miles to a gallon of gas, vegetable oil or alcohol...


Rest in Peace, Madelyn Payne Dunham (a.k.a. Obama's Grandma)

Madelyn Dunham, known to most of the world simply as Barack Obama's grandmother, who raised Obama for large portions of his childhood, passed away today. Having read large portions of his first book, Dunham had a huge impact on Obama's character and was quite an impressive character herself. Sad that the passing of such a central person in the man's life would happen literally on the eve of the biggest day in his career, at least so far. Our thoughts are with the Obama family.

When Worlds Collide

The campaign is reaching its final feverish pitch and my worlds are colliding as Jimmy Rollins and several other of your World Champion Philadelphia Phillies are going to be at a rally with Joe and Jill Biden this evening. I'm getting butterflies...

Video Mess For Thursday... er Monday!

Ok, so many thanks to Venice who yet again picked up the slack in the last two days posting while I lapsed a bit! I greatly appreciate it, my newly employed friend. I hope that your move has gone as well as it has gone swiftly. Meanwhile, it's apparently the week for employment news at The Best Way, because a big piece of my reasons behind not posting over the past couple days was the fact that my own stint of unemployment came to an end on Friday!

We'll aim to keep bringing you high quality content, even if posting becomes more concentrated in the evening and/or weekend hours over the weeks and months to come. That disclaimer said, here's a video intensive update I meant to post last Thursday... then we'll get back to your regularly scheduled semi-relevant and non-stale content:

Last week Tina Fey visited Conan Obrien and hilarity insued. If you missed their conversations, including talk about Tina quizzing her young daughter to see if she can tell her own mother apart from Sarah Palin, then please check it out.

Seriously... perhaps I should just ditch this post. Um... yeah, moving on

Wait! This makes the staleness worthwile! Last week Wonkette posted the following um... just incredible video that illustrates an incredibly strong reason why everyone should vote: the person voting before or after you just might be insane. Seriously folks, have you met someone who says they just don't vote because they can't keep up with it all? Did they seem at least somewhat able to think coherently? Next time this happens, encourage them to vote... because of that one crazy glue sniffer out there whose vote they can cancel out.

In other happenings last week that are insanely important, John McCain went to an Ohio rally expecting to be joined by his buddy Joe the Plumber, but guess who didn't show up? Yup... um... Joe, you know... Joe, the Plumber. Oops.

Oh, and the Phillies WON it ALL!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

John McCain endorses Barack Obama for President of the United States

Just kidding, of course, but the way things are going out there I wouldn't be surprised. Anyway, I will probably be blogging lightly or not at all this week, even on Election Day. I will try to sound in at some point though. Although it's fun to think of an Obama blowout, I have a suspicious feeling that the race will actually be closer than conventional wisdom says. I admit there isn't much evidence for this. Even if you took out presidential polls, there is reason for Obamafans to be optimistic. He's raised insane cash from a record number of donors. He's dominated advertising and, by all accounts, has a superior ground game. Congressional Democrats look poised to sweep their Republican rivals. All these things point to an Obama victory, so the presidential polls showing him ahead are really only icing on the cake. However, I honestly thought that Kerry and Gore would win too (arguably Gore did win, but let's not get into that). So all I can feel now is cautious optimism. In any case, I feel this election is going to be a win-win for this country. No matter what happens, we're coming out of a long dark W.-inter.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stay Tuned!

I'm having a crazy day today, but just to give a little heads-up to regular readers, I'm prepping a fun little video barrage for this evening complete with drugs, Tina Fey, Baseball, strange campaign gaffes and um... did I mention videos about drugs and weird other scary stuff like that?

I know, I know... this post is a tease, and while I was typing it I totally could have just fed you at least one of the videos I'm vaguely describing, but if you wait, they'll all come in one glorious post sometime later tonight. I swear. Like, really.

Until then, here's a picture of me celebrating the Phillies' win in the World Series! YEAH PHILLIES!!!!!! Kim doesn't look too scared by my craziness, right? Ok, if so it's kinda understandable. I was um... a little excited. Just a bit. Ok, no really, I was out of my mind with excitement.

Last time the Phillies won a world series I was... what? Oh, that's right not quite 6mo old!

Politics Is Local: Questions about CT Question #1

Connecticut has recently become the latest state thrust into the gay marriage spotlight, when the CT Supreme Court ruled that laws setting out marriage for straight folks and civil unions for gay folks were an example of a "separate but equal" approach to the law. This ruling and judgment on their part, strikes me as eminently logical, clear-cut, and very admirable. I know the marriage question can be difficult for some people, even very tolerant people, but there are common sense aspects to this whole debate, and the analogy to "separate but equal" is, in my eyes, one of the clearest available.

The result of this decision? A new push to introduce ballot initiatives into law in CT via Question #1 which is not a ballot initiative itself. Question #1 is a once-in-twenty years chance for CT voters to say yes or no on the idea of the state holding a convention to review and revise the CT constitution. This question is not legislative, and was last on the ballot in 1986 when voters decided no such convention was necessary.

The predominance of opinion seems to hold that the supporters of Question #1 and a convention want to use this forum to enact ballot initiatives into law, whereby they will almost certainly then move swiftly to introduce an anti-gay marriage initiative onto the next possible ballot.

Now, Ballot initiatives are not a new thing, and here in America they have made some of the biggest splashes out in Califorina, where famous initiatives include:
  • Proposition 187, which was designed to deny illegal immigrants social services, health care, and public education (passed with 58.8% of the vote in 1994, and was subsequently overturned by a federal court).
  • Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act which passed in 1996 with 55.6% of the vote. The proposition allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation, and the patient's designated Primary Caregivers, to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use, and has since been expanded to protect a growing system of collective and cooperative distribution.
While these two examples may seem to show how ballot initiatives can swing support to causes both socially liberal and conservative, the most widespread use of ballot initiative in recent memory has been as a tool to fight against the institutionalization of gay marriage. As I mention in the introduction, CT now finds itself in the middle of the marriage battle. Hence, one of the biggest supporters of voting "Yes" on Question #1, is the Catholic church.

Advocates claim that ballot initiatives will help the people participate more directly in CT's government, and that they will help fight corruption and lack of action on issues close to CT voters' hearts. Opponents, including the Attorney General (aka the highest ranking lawyer in the state) of CT, believe ballot initiatives would give special interests and lobbyists a new tool, and would not benefit the people.

So, what to do? Is it a good or bad idea to let the people of our lovely nutmeggy state gain the wonderful new ability to petition for and then exercise a new right to basically legislate via popular vote?

I would strongly encourage people to vote "no." While I like the idea of ballot initiatives in theory, I don't necessarily see them as a huge positive in practice. I also am someone whose personal beliefs are pretty far left, so I feel like rules legislated by popular opinion (it is suggested that along with anti-gay marriage initiatives, we would likely also see mandatory sentencing or "three strikes and your out" initiatives introduced on ballots right away) are likely to be at least a significant distance further to the right than where I sit.

Bottom line here, as I see it, is that the people pushing for Question #1 to get yes votes are not being forthcoming about their motives, and I find that reason enough to give it a thumbs-down.

Read More:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Comic Relief: FAIL

Just cause... you know... The Price is Right is still on TV. That's reason enough to enjoy this video:

Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama, Warning: This WILL Get Stuck in Your Head

It's stuck in mine. I only wish I could understand more of their lyrics. Thanks to Wonkette for bringing us this wonderful video!!! These kids should be in the cabinet, whoever gets elected... wait... no, maybe that's a bad idea, but regardless this video is kinda fun, even if you get the song stuck in your head, like I did!

Favorite lyric, "Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama"

Franken Update! Washed-Up Stars Hate Al!

The video below even stars Bridgeport, CT (and Cheers') own John Razenberger among a 4-person parade of Hollywood almost elites basing Al Franken. Somehow I can't quite imagine this making a huge splash for Norm Coleman... but... yeah.

Ouch, This Hurts Me Right in the Soul

Damn, West Virginia. Why? Why must you disappoint so deeply. Below please watch and join me in being concerned by a demonstration of how voting machines in WV function just... um... great. Great, if when you vote a "straight Democratic" ticket you end up voting John McCain for president! Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap, this is just, well, scary.

Round Mound of Rebound to Lead Alabama to Bright New Future???

In the year Two Thousand (and fourteen) Charles Barkley will run Alabama... I wonder if there are any Alabama residents who comment on this blog and might have thoughts on this idea!?!? For more on what motivated Barkley's thoughts of running:
"I plan on it in 2014," Barkley told CNN's Campbell Brown on Monday. When asked if he was serious, the former Philadelphia 76er said, "I am, I can't screw up Alabama." He added that his native state could only improve. "We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren't going anywhere," Barkley said.
Read More.

Journalistic Integrity, Political Flack/Hackery and Media Bias, an Essay in 3 Parts (with Video!!!!)

Part 1: Campbell Brown on Campaign Journalism, BS, Pregnancy, and Callin' it Like it Is
Campbell Brown visited the Daily Show yesterday and among other things discussed CNN's goals with regards to campaign coverage. She nicely summed up her goals, saying, "If one candidate is saying it's raining and the other says it's sunny we should be able to look outside and say, 'it's sunny.' Which means one guy is wrong!" It's a simple concept, but one so easily lost in the world of debate-style match-ups of talking heads from "each side" of an issue and demands that equal time go to each side, or that fairness or balanc-ed-ness is measured in the number of minutes given to each "side" while the other often has the opportunity to blabber over them as much as they can manage.

Part 2: Taking Flack Poster Child Tucker Bounds to School
I've got a growing list of campaign flacks I hate, and I think anyone who watches cable news with any regularity likely does as well. While I've been an Obama fan for awhile, I don't think John McCain has helped himself by having Nancy Pfotenhauer and Tucker Carlson Bounds out there spewing idiocy on his behalf. How bad is Mr. Bounds? Apparently at least 3 cable news outlets have more or less taken him to school. Check out the video (I couldn't embed this one) by following the link.

Part 3: Bill Burton Won't Back Down
The left has talked about Fox News' bias for quite some time now, and that bias has been documented in various ways (but honestly, what progressive who has watched Faux News for more than 5 minutes even feels like documentation is actually necessary?). Anyway, the Obama campaign has recently gone after Faux News head-on with the candidate himself even taking some digs here or there. Bill Burton, a campaign spokesman, recently released a statement about Fox picking up and distributing a story no other major news network has touched after the Drudge Report started the rumor mill churning a day before. Fox had him on to get a spanking, but Bill Burton would not take his licks quietly, no no. Instead, what they got is the combative exchange you see below. Nice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Who's up for getting INSPIRED on a Tuesday morning?

Ok, so yesterday I had a somewhat infuriating clip of some crazy lady in Florida "interviewing" Joe Biden by basically parroting GOP talking points and then acting like they were questions. Today, the Biden clips continue, but they give you a completely different piece of the political landscape, namely one of many reasons Joe Biden is a ridiculously cool guy. Below is a story about one woman's struggle with domestic violence and how Biden's work to pass the Violence Against Women act had a direct impact on her life. Inspiring stuff! Enjoy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Questions about polling

I've had many conversations over the last month about polls. I've also had a running dialog with myself over the last few days as the election draws closer and closer. My inner conversation has been one whose tone I can describe best by using the term, "caution." My conversations with friends have veered more towards discussion of the remarkable trends you can see in the last month + of polling data compiled in the trends graph from below.

The reason my inner thoughts have veered towards caution is that I'm superstitious and I'm worried. In 2004, I was convinced there was no way America could possibly think more Bush was a good idea, and yet somehow on November 5th I found myself wandering around Washington DC wondering to myself, "wtf???"

Now, 4 years later, it seems clear that Obama is in a much stronger position than Kerry ever was able to establish for himself, but still I am one who will keep his fingers crossed into the evening of November 4th. I'm excited, hopeful and looking at the trends you can see above I am encouraged, but I cannot and do not assume this is in the bag by any means. I'm excited to get into the booth and cast my ballot, and I hope all the other Obama supporters out there are just as pumped up, so that we show up in the record numbers that appear to be turning out already in early voting states.

Are you joking? Who's up for getting ANGRY on a Monday morning?

Given my leanings, you might think this post is going to be about John McCain's temper, but it is not. Instead, it's about my own. One thing I have grown increasingly tired about over the past few years is the hackery that is passed off in so many places as reporting. There sometimes seems to be a horse race between cable news and local news to see who can dig the deepest into the pit quickest, but sometimes that feels unfair. Is it worth pointing out that cable news personalities may be actually paid to be hacks whereas local news personalities may just be rookies or amateurs who don't realize how poorly they're executing on reporting?

I dunno, and maybe I don't even care. Do you? Either way, check out this lady from Florida "interviewing" Joe Biden. I think Biden keeps his cool and does a remarkable job in the face of some truly ridiculous questions taken from or even elaborated beyond McCain campaign talking points. If you want some further background on this lovely reporter, check out her interview with McCain.

Glad to have found all of this on HuffPo. Ugh, I really don't know what else to say here.

Conservatives for Obama

There is a good video out that was released last week showing interviews with conservatives who plan to vote for Barack Obama. The video is below, and truly speaks for itself, but Huffington Post also had a great piece put together by the video's creator, and I wanted to post a bit of that text along with the video.
There are a number of people in my life -- some family, some friends, some colleagues -- with whom I have never agreed upon anything political. Ever. These are my political opposites. My bizarre-o twins. And they have been my adversaries in countless debates; the kind nobody ever wins, but nobody ever seems to tire of, either.

Sadly, politics have become sort of a new sports league in modern culture. We don't really listen to each other's points of view so much as we pick a side and root for it. And just as with our favorite sports teams, our faith in our parties can become blind...

I fully expected the results to be compelling and convincing. And they are. What I didn't expect was the emotional wallop these unscripted interviews deliver. A combination of deep disillusionment with the last eight years, disappointment in John McCain's candidacy, and an undeniable draw to Obama brought these people to a political decision that was deeply personal and courageous. It became clear to me that these were more than interviews. These were confessions.

This is what democracy is supposed to be. These people actually listened, considered and were open to the possibility of change. They didn't support a candidate. They actually chose one. And while I'm happy this year they are voting for "my team," they also inspired me to be more open in my own political life.

Obama on Visiting his Grandma

I know this whole piece of campaign history is now in the books, but I caught this video last week and really wanted to post it. I believe it appeared on Huffington Post just before Obama left the trail to visit with his grandmother, who recently broke her hip and is in very poor, and possibly deteriorating health. What I didn't know, personally, is that he made the decision to visit Grandma, in part, motivated by the fact that he chose differently when his mother was sick before she passed away. He talks about that decision below.

As someone who lost a parent with very little notice I feel like his decision is something I can 100% relate to, and a choice I very deeply respect.

SNL Will Ferrell's Brilliant George Bush Returns

I'm a pretty huge fan of Will Ferrell, I'm not gonna lie. Elf? Perhaps my favorite Christmas movie... ok, perhaps second to It's a Wonderful Life, with Home Alone a close 3rd. Did anyone else see the Ice Harvest? That was kinda fun too. Crap, I'm totally off topic. Anyway, Will Ferrell, I love the guy, I'll be honest with you, I love his music, I do, I'm a Will Ferrell fan. For my money, I don't know if it gets any better than when he sings "When a Man Loves a Woman." celebrate his entire catalogue... yeah, oops, off topic again.

SNL rolled out Ferrell for the latest brilliant installment of the Tina Fey as Sarah Palin show. While we all now know that playing Sarah Palin causes Fey the kind of pain typically reserved for Guantanamo Bay interrogations, the sketches really are amazing. I'll be happy to see Palin and McCain lose so that Fey doesn't launch herself into space, but I will miss the comic hijinks. Check it:

The Best Way Back!

Hey, I have to say that I gave no notice to my friends who post some wonderful content up here and hence I'm glad some stuff made it up while I was away at Kim's sister Heather's wedding this weekend. Meanwhile we all returned home yesterday and mixed football with napping and general laziness. Good times were had by all. The wedding was great, but as weddings can, the experience was very all-consuming. Hence, there was no blogination for a few days now.

To pull back the curtain a bit on my blogging techniques, when I get super-busy I still find moments here and there to look for stuff to blog about. If I can't get to posting, I'll write myself an email with links to whatever content I had in mind to toss up. Today I'll post a bunch of stuff that hopefully isn't too horribly dated at this point, but I'll also mix in some amazing new news of the day. How's that?

Meanwhile, how about the whole picture of where things stand today, huh? 8 days out from the election it looks like Obama is holding onto double-digit leads in national polls. Down in Philadelphia the Phillies are up 3 games to 1 on the Rays in the World Series, with a chance to finish it off tonight in Philly! (that would be absolutely HUGE for the city of Brotherly love... don't believe it? Check out the "Clock of Fan Desperation" that counts down how long it's been since the last national championship won in Philadelphia.) Also, how about the whole thing with Jennifer Hudson? That's just horrifically sad. I can't imagine what it must feel like. Oh, and um... yeah, how about that stock market, huh?

Ok... seriously now, I'm so happy to be back blogging away. I had a great weekend and I hope you did too! Congratulations to Heather and Doug and my friend Shaun and his lovely new bride Jen who also got married on Saturday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Real Political Vlack Talk

Filmmaker Alex Vlack recently sat down with the people who bring you Real Political Face Talk, for a chance to talk about his new feature Still Bill, a documentary about Bill Withers. Mr. Withers is the songwriting talent behind such classics as "Ain't No Sunshine," "Lovely Day," "Lean on Me", and "Just the Two of Us". In other words, even if you are not familiar with the name, you have certainly heard his music! The resulting interview, between Mr. Vlack and RPFT, is well-worth reading for anyone who is excited about music or movies, or movies about music. Here is Mr. Vlack's description of his own work:

We do feel like there are no films about music legends quite like this one. It's not a "Behind-The-Music". It's a very personal, honest, and profound portrait of a very interesting man. You won't walk away knowing everything about his life and career, but you will feel like you know him much better as a person.

Highly Reccomended.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Former Republican Gov. of Minnesota endorses Obama!

The wave of bi-partisanship continues with Arne Carlson, a former Republican governor in Minnesota, endorsing Barack Obama for President. I'm not sure Minnessota was in play even before this announcement, but it is another feather in Obama's already very well-adorned cap.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Go Phillies!

Phillies and the Rays are under way here, and like so many folks out there I'm on the edge of my seat. Nice start courtesy of Chase Utley... but many innings to go!


Time Machine: Destination 2004!!!

Wow... incredible, remarkable, strange... I just don't quite know what to say about this bizarrely prescient Life Magazine cover from 2004, where they talked to various famous people about why they take voting so seriously. Among the folks they talked to were Tina Fey and John McCain, who, according to former Managing Editor, Bill Shapiro, got along famously.
Of course, we photographed John McCain and Tina Fey together. He was thrilled to meet her and they got along very well: They had lunch and he gave her an impromptu tour of the Senate building. Makes us wonder if when McCain met Palin for the first time, he said, 'You know, you remind me of someone..."

Nice discovery, Wonkette. I'm still trying to comprehend the picture, but damn if it isn't cool.

Wednesday Video Blitz (part 2)!!!

Ok... the Wednesday video blitz continues! This time with slightly more brief commentary.

Video #3 From a rally yesterday in PA, McCain can't quite stick the landing on this attack line. Not too much to say beyond that, except if you want to hop back to a previous post on slips. Thoughts?

Video #3 Citizen's Arrest! Citizen's Arrest! I, for one, love the concept of a citizen's arrest, don't you? In the video below you can see two funny things, first being a San Francisco woman attempting to execute a citizen's arrest for treason of Karl Rove. Right on lady! You rock! Meanwhile, later in the video there's a great zinger first, one John Kerry apparently had and Rove repeats, and then a beautiful dig on Rove. Check it!

Hope you enjoyed the video fun! Maybe we'll add part 3 later.

Hey Peter, watch out for your corn hole, buddy!

Salon reported earlier in the week that Office Space star Ron Livingston will hit the campaign trail for Barack Obama in Iowa this week. Livingston grew up in Iowa and will make stops all across the state. Salon said:
We hope there is enough cake to go around and that Milton will get to keep his stapler.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping that someday soon the shop will feature a red Swingline stapler that simply says, "Hope" on it. C'mon, you know you want one!

Wednesday Video Blitz (part 1)!!!

Hey, come on people... it's Wednesday, hump day, that day that sits between the two that start with 'T'... ya know, it's all... wait, I have no point. Yes, wait, yes!!! I do! It's Wednesday, let's celebrate with a barrage of recent interesting videos for your enjoyment!!! What do you think!?!?!? This post will feature the first two, and I'll post another two in the early afternoon, with some other random junk in between.

Video #1 will really start us off with a bang... but sadly, it's a bang called 'really appalling and disturbing." John McCain was recently asked if he was 'proud' of an mailer the RNC is sending around with airplanes and text about terrorists on the outside, and a huge picture of Barack Obama inside. The mailer states, among other things, that Barack Obama "thinks terrorists just need a good talking to." Apparently, this sort of distorted and gut-wrenchingly disgusting crap is the kind of stuff John McCain is proud of. Ugh.

Video #2 is an interesting one that is making the rounds and something McCain really should be proud of. This is the second recent clip I've posted from the American News Project, and both have been remarkably well done glimpses into illuminating issues around and connected to the presidential race (today they've got a striking piece up about the disenfranchisement of felons). In the video below you can see a variety of different folks, eventually joined by a man who is a representative from Muslims for McCain confronting a couple who are selling bumper stickers at a McCain rally. The video starts with the sticker salesman lecturing about Islam, and the stickers contain imagery linking Obama to Islam and Communism.

The folks who confront the sticker-selling couple are pretty level headed and cool about their comments for the most part. Towards the end a guy who identified himself as a conservative Christian actually asks, "are you deliberately trying to lose us this election"?

I think the two videos provide an interesting juxtaposition of ideas swirling around how Islam and Obama's name, identity, etc. are treated in this election. To be honest, I think the issues we see swirling around the election right now represent a huge leap forward in terms of progress, by which I mean to say I think that it's progress that America is working through some of this. We've still got a lot of work to do in many quarters to realize how to live out the tolerance and liberty our nation was founded on, but I am hopeful that remarkable things are happening this fall and will continue in the months and years to come.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Japan that can say "Buy"

One of the interesting side effects of this whole subprime financial crisis has been the growing assertiveness of Asian economies, particularly Japan (and I don't care what you say, Japan is an Asian economy!) It's not that the Japanese economy is doing particularly well right now. However, Japanese banks are apparently fair stable and flush with cash in comparison to their American counterpoints. After the Mitsubishi deal, some people have started talking about Japan as a "white knight" nation, one who rescues South Korea and some Wall Street titans. If this comes about to pass it will be very fitting, given that Japan went through a similar problem in the 1990's. Fareed Zakaria will prarticularly love this tidbit:

Mr. Shiozaki and others are careful to point out that no one is talking about replacing Washington as guardian of the global economy. Rather, what they envision is a world where America shares oversight of the global economy with emerging powers like China and India, as well as Europe and Japan.

With all this buzz about "pro-American" and "anti-American" we would do well to remember that the buzzword for the next few decades is likely to be "post-American."

So Close? or So Far Away?

I was reading through the post yesterday from Venice and I agree with his concern about the strength of poll numbers, the chances that things will look very different in two weeks than they do today, etc. It's an interesting morning to blog about this, what with Obama leaving the campaign trail to be with "Toot," his grandmother. Andrew Sullivan describes their relationship accurately, I think, by saying that if she passes away Obama will in essence be losing, "his last parent." His mother passed a few years back, and his grandfather and father are both gone.

Here are a few of my thoughts on Obama leaving the rallys and hooplah for a couple days, and on the polls and what they mean:
  1. Polls: I think there are a couple sites, Five Thirty Eight and in particular that do a good overlap of poll tracking and accompanying analysis. While I understand what Venice is pointing out about the fact that Obama's unprecedented support in some states doesn't necessarily translate to wins there, what I think is worth noting is that maps on both sites listed above calculate whether states are in one column or another (or somewhere between) based on composite poll numbers... hence, not comparison to past performance in a given venue. Below are some of Nate Silver from Five Thirty Eight's thoughts on Saturday's poll numbers and the talk of the race tightening:
  2. Between "Joe the Plumber", "spread the wealth", "I'm not George Bush", etc., however, McCain at least now seems to have a few somewhat more constructive talking points (in that sense, the fact that the Ayers attacks went over like a lead balloon at the debate might have done him a favor). So some of those crestfallen conservatives might have moved back into the likely voter universe...

    McCain's other problem is that the polls in battleground states have not really tightened at all. Obama gets good numbers today, for instance, in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Florida. Obama presently has something like a 3:1 advantage in advertising, and most of that advertising is concentrated in battleground states. As such, this may serve as a hedge against any improvements that McCain is able to make elsewhere in the country.
  3. Leaving the Trail: I think that Obama's departure for Hawaii at this particular moment is a reasonable thing, something most Americans will understand, and potentially something that the campaign will benefit from. Why? Well, it would seem to me that it would be hard to hit hard at a guy who's currently going home to see his sick grandma for perhaps the last time, but based on the past couple months nothing would surprise me. Perhaps his grandma 0nce had tea with some terrorists and we'll hear about it from some Sarah Palin rally today. Meanwhile, the rallys will go on with Michelle Obama, Clinton, Biden, Richardson, and the whole Democratic support team swooshing in to help out in Barack's absence. I think this whole event will work out to a net neutral for the campaign, even in light of how late on the moment is.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How close- or far- is this thing?

There's a bit of chatter this week about how the presidential race is tightening. It's a fair question, but what I've really been wondering is whether Obama was ever as far ahead as he seemed. Last week I remember reading about how some people at the networks were already thinking about an early election night, one in which it would be almost immediately apparent that Obama had won. It's easy to see why. Obama is way ahead nationally and leads in pretty much every swing state. He's even threatening McCain in traditionally Red territory like North Carolina and Indiana. Seems like this thing is over and done with.

The problem with this view is that electoral votes are, generally, an all or nothing affair. Obama might do unbelievably well in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Colorado, but that doesn't he'll actually beat McCain in any of these places. If he doesn't, that will bring the race back to traditonal swing states like Ohio and Florida, where things look more like a normal election. For instance, McCain has respectable, if not necessarily winning, support in Ohio. In other words, Obama's unprecedented strength in Red states could be great as fodder for political discussions and yet still be totally ineffective in terms of actually winning the election. Anyway, what do you all think? Just paranoia?

Franken's Got Map-Skills

In my continuing effort to promote the cool idea that Al Franken may soon unseat Norm Coleman for one of Minnesota's senate seats, I bring you a video of Franken drawing the continental US free hand. I found it via Digg, and a more extensive post on geography and Franken's drawing sills is available on the blog Parenting Squad. The Parenting Squad post sources Greg Laden for the story behind the drawing skills:
This [skill] stems from a bar bet Franken made some years ago in which he claimed to be able to name all fifty states. When he got to the end, the count was only 49, and there was no way to remember which state he had accidentally skipped. So he decided to learn how to draw a map of all 48 states so he could keep track.

A few friends from my study abroad trip to Rome used to razz a friend of ours who went to Waldorf Schools growing up about the fact that his alternate education should have endowed him with innate map-skills useful in any situation. Marky did, indeed, have quite a bit of cleverness... but I don't think his map skills were quite Franken-esque.

Mom, Dad, do you have a minute? We need to talk.

My friend Evelyn sent this clever little spot my way last week and it took me a couple days to post it up, but check out a nice little bit of advertising from my friends over at Makes me think of the famous, "I learned it from watching you!" anti-drug advertisement from back in the day.

Weekend Wrap-Up: Rachel Maddow, Endorsements, etc.

I've got a deep fondness for Rachel Maddow, and as she grows a bigger name on the national stage as a political pundit/voice in the national cable news blab-o-thon my respect for her grows. I think she's an interesting, playful, powerful and smart voice from the left, but I also think she represents the best possible version of progressive politics, an often polite, rarely shrill yet still strong, passionate and clear voice driven by a strong set of values. This last piece is important to me, as someone who has always identified his liberal bias as built off a foundation of values and as someone who has struggled with the right's easy ability to seemingly own the term "values" in the national debate.

This weekend the New York Times ran a nice piece profiling the private side of Maddow. It's a nice read for anyone who seeks balance in their life, since it depicts a rising star in the chattering class who counter-balances her life on a state in NYC with a quieter weekend existence 190 miles away in the woods of Mass. Maddow is a liberal lesbian who drives a pickup, takes her dog to the dump on Saturday mornings, and seeks out odd-ball art like the squirrel statue you see on the right. The questions the NYT posed were well chosen, including the following:
Worst thing about Obama: He’s measured to a fault. He is so calm and cool and collected that sometimes I want to know what he feels.

Best thing about McCain: He’s very funny...

Obsession: Loose nukes. I literally lie awake and worry that we haven’t paid attention to some of the real national-security threats that are out there.

Favorite item in house: The house mostly reflects Susan’s style, but I have to put my stamp on things. Once, I found a sculpture of a big, fat squirrel holding a reflector. You’re supposed to put it at the end of your driveway. We have it near the kitchen table; it’s the house mascot.
Meanwhile, back out on the trail, Obama's camp was celebrating Colin Powell's endorsement. We've written a couple things about that development already so I wont' dwell on it, except to raise a sad and strange little related news bit. The McCain campaign countered Sunday's endorsement with an email blast to reporters touting an endorsement of their own:
"As a Hispanic-American, I understand how important this election is for Hispanics," said Katie Barberi, a Telenovela actress currently on Telemundo's Dona Barbara. "We need a leader who can lower taxes, protect small businesses, and increase job creation nationwide. I have no doubt that John McCain appreciates the important role Hispanics play not only in the economy, but in our nation's culture as well...
Wow... um... so there you have it folks... two little tidbits that tell you a bit about how the weekend went. Seriously, I can't muster anything to say about this Telemundo Telenovela star's endorsement... except, "wow."

Oh, and the Tampa Bay Rays won the honor of going up against the Phillies in this year's World Series. Should be a good series, although I don't know how well it will do ratings-wise.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell's Endorsement

By now, we all know that Powell endorsed Barack Obama on Meet the Press today. I have no idea how much this will mean in the next 16 days-- though it certainly will be welcome by the Obama camp-- but for me personally it was a very powerful moment and not only because I respect Colin Powell. I have rarely agreed so whole-heartedly with a national political figure.

I shared each one of his concerns about McCain's campaign, from the free improvisation that was his response to the financial crisis to his shameful suggestion that Obama sympathizes with terrorists. I hope that this will serve as a wake up call to McCain and the rest of the Republican party: we are sick of the politics of personal destruction and we VOTE!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Spy Stuff... Random, but Fun!

Learn a little bit about Jay J. Armes, Private Investigator. My friend Adam sent this my way months ago, but for some reason I never really watched it until today. It's completely random but fun and worth 6 minutes of your time!

On A Lighter, But Just As Anti-American Note

This Thursday brought us a special edition of SNL Weekend Update, and the highlight was Kristen Wiig (so so so funny) as the crazy lady from the McCain rally. Video of Kristen, Amy Poehler and Seth Myers below.

Click here for the original footage this joke is based on.

Modern McCarthyism: Minnesota, Please Get This Woman OUT of Congress!!!

Wow, it's anti-America Saturday here at The Best Way, and I've got post number two on the subject for you now. I saw a truly bizarre and disturbing exchange on Chris Matthews' MSNBC show hardball yesterday in which a complete wingnut crazy lady who just so happens to be a Congresswoman, Rep. Michelle Bachmann from Minnesota, blathered and name dropped every questionable association Barack Obama has ever had, making it sound like each and all of these folks are Obama's closest advisors today.

She also ranted about how liberals are all anti-American, and how journalists should do an expose exploring what members of congress don't love this country. I can't tell if exchanges like this should make me angry or just scared, but I do know that I hope Ms. Bachmann gets booted from her seat in congress this fall.

Late in the clip you can see Matthews speak for a few moments with Stephanie Cutter, a smart and often unshakable Obama representative, and I think it's worth noting just how upset and off her game Cutter is. I would be too, if I were in her shoes and had just sat there listening to 10 minutes of this vile crap and suddenly had to respond as though any of it was reasonable enough to warrant a response. The clip is below followed by two sections of transcript I think are particularly illuminating.

Matthews - Do you think the 30% of this country that call themselves liberals, are they anti-American?

Bachmann - I think the people that Barack Obama has been associating with are anti-American by and large, the people who are radical leftists...

...and then later

Matthews - This is the strongest stuff I've heard since back in the 50s when they used to call up and say, 'Hey you know, this guys a communist...'

Stephanie Cutter - What do you want me to say, Chris? 2/3 of the American people think John McCain is running a low-road campaign... I'm not sure that Congresswoman really represents where the American people are right now...
Seriously, and honestly, if this isn't McCarthyism, I don't know what is. If it makes any of you feel any better, Ms. Bachmann's routine here has done wonders for the fundraising efforts of her opponent in this fall's election. What was already a close race will hopefully now be even closer with a new infusion of cash for Elwyn Tinklenberg, her fantastically named oponent.

Update: In the first 24 hours after Bachmann's remarks Tinklenberg raised over $438,000.00 for his campaign, and it has been reported that he has continued the windfall, raising well over $600,000 this weekend. That's not the only fallout for Bachmann, though, her remarks have also inspired her GOP primary opponent for this congressional seat to wage a new campaign to get Republicans and others outraged by Bachmann's remarks to vote for him as a write-in on their November ballot! Amazing how clearly Americans have responded, saying loud and clear, "We don't want a new era of McCarthyism!" Nice work everyone!!!

Biden Takes on the Idea of "Pro-American parts of America"

I think Americablog gets it right when they say that the video below shows, "Biden at his best." This short clip shows Biden reacting to Sarah Palin's recent remark about how she likes to visit, "Pro-American parts of this country." Biden says, among other things:
I've never been to a state that hasn't sent it's sons and daughters to fight and die for this country. It doesn't matter where you live! We all love this country.

Friday, October 17, 2008

WWCPD? What would Colin Powell do, and so what?

Huffington Post reports today that Colin Powell is almost certainly ready to endorse Barack Obama for President, and I for one am impressed and encouraged by this tidbit of news. Back in the 90s when I was both a teenager and much less knowledgable about politics Powell was someone who floated into my consciousness as uniquely impressive. Late in the 90s when he basically refused to run for President supposedly largely based on his wife's objections I took that as yet another reason to be impressed with his judgement and values.

While serving in the Bush administration Powell did a number of things that tarnished my opinion of him as both a leader and a person. When considering some of his most egregious acts during his tenure under Bush, I often imagined (and some reporst would support this idea) that he convinced himself to go along with Bush Cheney & Co. under the umbrella of serving our country best by working within their team to try and offer a stable, sensible voice among some truly nutty wingnuts, like Cheney. At the same time, and through all of this I know that Powell and I are two vastly different people in terms of our political beliefs and values.

So what's this all worth, and why does Powell matter? Well, I would suggest this tidbit is newsworthy, if accurate for two salient reasons:
  1. Powell is understood primarily to be not only a military man, but an elderstatesman within the U.S. military establishment. The guy was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (also only African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs so far), Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor to Raegan and Bush 1.
  2. I believe Powell is seen and will continue to be seen as eminently either nonpartisan or, if at all partisan moderately Republican across wide swaths of undecided America. While Powell's own endorsement may not have an enormous measured impact, I do think it plays into a larger narrative about the middle of the American electorate slipping away from McCain based on a stew of different issues swirling around the economy, his choice of Palin, recent erratic behavior, and the simple sense that one candidate in this election has brightly out-shined the other in terms of confidence and leadership over the last month of rocky news for our nation.
Now, that said, I am sure there are parts of America, and I hate to say this, where folks will look at a Powell endorsement and simply see one African American man endorsing another. I would posit, however, that these folks are likely already decided and are waiting anxiously to tote out their monkey dolls or other bizarro paraphernalia to the next local Sarah Palin rally. Meanwhile many places in the land of the undecided I can see Powell's voice resonating in interesting ways.

Perhaps the larger trends are the real story, but I for one was pleasantly surprised (although not that surprised) to see this headline today, and I am encouraged to see Powell follow the undecided Matts of New Hampsire constituency in joining the Obama fold!

image from World Economic Form published under Creative Commons license.

Editor's Note: This post was originally posted on 10/15, but I have bumped it back up in response to Powell's upcoming appearance on national TV (Sunday morning).

Voter Fraud Facts, Fiction, Fury and Foolishnes.

As the campaign pulls into the closing stretch over the next couple weeks, expect to hear more and more and more from the right wing about how evil ACORN is, and how they are aiming to destroy democracy. John McCain lashed out hard against the group in Wednesday night's debate, and Sarah Palin has been whipping up the base with vaguely stated charges out on the campaign trail for weeks, not only accusing the group of organized fraud, but also Obama of collusion with these supposed efforts.

Meanwhile, in some states early voting has already begun, and reports are trickling in of actual attempts at voter fraud by supporters of the GOP ticket. Read one or two of these accounts on Andrew Sullivan's blog to get a feel for what I mean.

Also, whether informally or through some formal effort, emails have circulated in the past few months about voters being turned away from polling places if they wear anything showing support for a particular candidate. The validity of this rumor varies from state to state, so through a link off a page on the subject I found an article that documents extensive research on the various state laws. This article says, among other things:
1. Laws in 10 states prohibit the “wearing” of a political message button

Ten States -- Delaware, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont -- prohibit a voter from “wearing” to the polls the same type of political message button that I wore on Election day. State laws describe this type of political message/campaign button in language such as “badge, “lapel,” “button,” or “pin” (all hereinafter “button”). It is important to note that in Tennessee, the state that enacted a “campaign-free zone” law that was challenged in the Supreme Court,18 the statute explicitly notes that a person may wear campaign clothing only outside the legally appropriate polling place boundary...

2. Laws in 40 states and the District of Columbia prohibit campaign activities in and around the polls in other ways

Each of the other forty states and the District of Columbia also regulate activities in and around its polling places on election day. These laws are designed to preclude voter intimidation and reduce the opportunity for fraud. A group of states make it unlawful to “display” or “exhibit” campaign material (sometimes enforced against voters wearing buttons, t-shirts or hats) in and around polls. Several states ban “electioneering” in polling places (the definitions of the activities that constitute electioneering vary from state to state). The majority of states prohibit a person from “posting” or “distributing” campaign literature and materials around the polling area. Several states simply regulate campaigning near polls through anti-loitering statutes. All these statutes intend to prevent active, disruptive campaigning as voters cast their ballots.
Advice: if you have questions about what is permissable in your state, find information on contacting your state elections board here, and consider sending around the proper information far and wide once you have it.

So now you've got some context, but where's the story and what's really going on? The reality of the ACORN situation is that unfortunately some shady action is in fact happening. One of the things ACORN does is to pay workers who canvas, often in low-income communities, looking to register voters. These workers are often paid based on how many folks they register so it should come as little surprise to people that here or there one of these workers forges a name or 70, simply trying to pad their check by upping their numbers.

Should the fact that this is unsurprising make anyone feel like it's less disturbing? No, not really. However, what should is that every single state in the U.S. has systems to check voter registrations and weed out faulty ones along the way. ACORN is not collecting votes, merely registering people to vote, and the thinness of this GOP scare tactic is illustrated even more clearly when you look at an interview former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias recently did with Talking Points Memo. Iglesias was dismissed by the Department of Justice after he refused to chase after voter fraud claims in certain cases where he felt the investigations of said fraud showed little evidence worthy of prosecution. Discussing this latest controversy over ACORN, Iglesias said:
"I'm astounded that this issue is being trotted out again," Iglesias told TPMmuckraker. "Based on what I saw in 2004 and 2006, it's a scare tactic." ...

Iglesias, who has been the most outspoken of the fired U.S. attorneys, went on to say that the FBI's investigation seemed designed to inappropriately create a "boogeyman" out of voter fraud.

And he added that it "stands to reason" that the investigation was launched in response to GOP complaints...

As we noted earlier... changes made to DOJ's election crimes manual, lowered the bar for voter-fraud prosecutions, and made it easier to bring vote-fraud cases close to the election... Speaking today to TPMmuckraker, Iglesias called such changes "extremely problematic."
So... what is any of this worth? Well, if the current polls hold true and even if the race tightens a bit over the next few weeks, it looks like Obama may win a decisive enough victory that claims around voter fraud, etc. will matter very little in the larger picture. If, however, something happens over the next little bit and the results on November 5th look closer that we now expect, don't be surprised if these shrill shrieks about ACORN become even louder, and potentially a more divisive wedge pounded into the American electorate.

I, for one, hope that this issue becomes the non-issue I predict it could be simply because I think a lot of the hoopla about fraud focuses on fictitious and trumped up claims that provide a cover for more pernicious goals (namely continuing the existing disenfranchisement of low-income and minority voters to the benefit of those parties whose policies ultimately hurt these same populations).

That said, could we use cleaner, easier, more straightforward systems for both signing up to vote, and for the government to ensure the integrity of our votes? Yes, I am, and I think we can all be in favor of that idea.

Until better systems are achieved, I will keep my fingers crossed, and I would suggest that it might just be wise to consider leaving your candidate pin in the car when you go into the polling place November 4th. I would hate to see anyone turned away from voting in such an important election for any reason at all.