Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Enosinians, Assemble!

Please join The Enosinian Society for our first debate of the 2009 Spring semester tonight at 8:00 pm in the Honors Building, 714 21st St. NW, to debate

Resolved: The government should consider childhood obesity as child abuse

It is generally believed that it is the government's responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens, especially children. It is the public's opinion that childhood obesity is a dangerous trend. Since we already demand our government protect children from negligent parents, shouldn't we empower the state to exercise its authority to protect children from obesity's fatal threats? Or does the over-hyped "obesity epidemic" warrant the government's further micromanaging the family? Join us to debate the role of government and whether or not parenting is a job that should be regulated by the government.

Proposition: Julia Ridpath
Opposition: Tim Kellogg

See you there,
Eshawn R. Rawlley
Speaker of the House

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Right, I'm Sure He's Shaking in His Suit

I'm sorry, I'm still laughing over one Mr. Rush Limbaugh's assertion on Monday that President Barack Obama is "scared" of him.

The radio clown's comments come after the President denounced Limbaugh and his likes as obstacles to political unity, a comment he made after Rush exclaimed (before his aide wiped the drool from his chin with a Wetnap) "I want Obama to fail!"

"[Obama's] more frightened of me than he is of John Boehner, which doesn't say much for our party," Limbaugh said.

You're right Rush, it doesn't. Were it even true.

The notion that the Leader of the Free World is "frightened" by an increasingly delusional, ugly man who cowers behind a microphone in a studio ranting against his perceived (and fictional) War on America waged by the political left is hilarious.

This is a man who is fighting for relevance after the "values" and "principles" he steadfastly (obnoxiously and loudly) supported for the past eight years were swept away by a movement led by a man whom Limbaugh claimed was a closet socialist for more than a year. A man who spent the entire general election season serving as Sen. McCain's most fervent on-air proponent only to throw McCain under the bus after his loss, claiming he wasn't a "real Republican." He decided to also revoke Gen. Colin Powell's party identification due to his endorsement of Obama and after Powell derided the likes of Limbaugh on national television.

"Now this is the great unifier," Rush said with a dollop of his signature acidic, righteous sarcasm. "This is the man who’s going to unify everybody and usher in a new era of bipartisanship and love,"

By finally denouncing festering morons like you who offer no positive contribution to our political dialogue? Yeah, I'd say he's off to a good start there.

Rush sounds like a man who is refusing to come to terms with the fact that his own party is abandoning him, having finally realized his obsolescence.

The President's not afraid of you, Rush. He just made the mistake of lending you any semblance of relevance and credibility to your pathetic listeners by merely mentioning your name. I suppose I'm doing the same, but hell, I'm just too damn tickled by you. Perhaps the President is too!

Nope, the President's not afraid of you, Rush. And neither is anyone else. Just amused. But we've got Rock Of Love now, so you can pipe down.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Hat tip to Mr. Beck over at Farragut West

Our dear friend and fellow Colonial and SFBOer Jessica Gordon was featured on CBS News recently. She sat down with Byron Pitts to discuss her role in the 2008 Iowa caucus that launched the President's campaign, as well as what President Obama's election victory meant to her. For someone like Jessi who like so many Americans worked tirelessly throughout the campaign (including arranging turf with me until 4AM in Wilmington, DE), this recognition is well-deserved. Congrats, Jess!

I can't embed, but link here: CBS News

"I drank the Kool-Aid before it was cool to drink the Kool-Aid."

Attractive Anchors & Cutie Correspondents, I

It has not escaped by attention that every successful (we)blog has at least one running series. As chief meterologist at Second Rain I wish only its continued growth and success as one of America's most widely read (we)blog. In that spirit, I unveil to you today the first installment of one of several running series here at Second Rain.

Today's Forecast: Attractive Anchors & Cutie Correspondents, Part I

That's right, starting today, I will be ever so often profiling one particularly hot anchor, news reporter, foreign correspondant, senior political analyst, data interpreter, talk/game/cooking show host, etc. for your pleasure! This series will focus on both national and local journalists who make you want to, er, get up a little bit earlier in the morning.

So who has the honor of kick-starting what is soon sure to become a staple on The Today Show?

Well how 'bout that Today Show?

Spotlight: Meredith Vieira

Look, I know the woman is 55 years old. But tell me the last time you saw a 55 year old woman who looked like THAT? Witness that radiant smile and the twinkle in those beautiful eyes and listen to her bubbly laugh, and then tell me she doesn't remind you of the adorable blonde cocktease that sat next to you in algebra. The woman is a babyboomer bombshell. As a local reporter in Rhode Island, Meredith cut her teeth at WJAR-TV Providence after graduating magna cum laude from Tufts University with a B.A. in English (I'd like to magna cu--sorry).

After bouncing around and eventually landing at WCBS-TV in New York City as an investigative reporter (she can investigate my pan--sorrysorry), she got a gig hosting a start up show called "The View" in 1997 on which she would begin every taping by turning to the camera, flashing that million dollar smile and saying "Hello! And welcome to The View!" (and what a view it was).

Speaking of a million dollars, Meredith stepped in for Regis on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" in 2002 and won a Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Game Show Host. She's a winner, baby. And today she's won a spot on this month's premiere edition of AA&CC.

Et la pièce de résistance:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

May Angels Lead You In

Yesterday morning, one of GW's own left us too early. I didn't know Laura Treanor.

The old sentiment "cherish every day like it's your last" at times seems hackneyed when you're so certain that the dawn of your final day is still a million sunrises away. I don't think Laura Treanor suspected that yesterday's dawn would be her last. But if her passing shows anything to all of us, it is that the pedestal of arrogance upon which we stand in order to revel in our self-fashioned temporary immortality may in one strong wind heave and crumble to the ground while we're still thumbing our noses to the sky.

It is difficult to find meaning and significance in our days under the crushing weight of the inconsequential minutia of our daily lives. But a loss that hits so closely reminds us of the challenge we face. Each of us must find our own way of stealing ourselves away from the ever narrowing present and discover a broader vista; we must ever so often focus our eyes off of the ground and onto horizons ahead. We must learn to appreciate the frailty of heartbeats and the miracle of breathing. We must remember that everyone is someone's son or daughter, including ourselves. And most of all, we all must do our very best to keep at bay the virulent notion of invincability that clouds our heads and obscures our vision.

They say one must grow old to appreciate being young. Perhaps the wisdom of age humbles us so we may step down gracefully from our pedestals before we're brought down.

I didn't know Laura Treanor.
She was from New York, she was 19 years old, and she was someone's daughter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chance of Showers: 01/22/09

Turn your tongues to the sky raindancers!

Here's the latest political buzz:

Senator McCain (R-AZ) is interviewed on Larry King Live, his first major interview since his election defeat:

McCain on challenges facing President Obama: "epic."

On working with the President: "These are difficult times and whatever way I can assist and work with the president of the United States, I want to do it. "And again, the American people are tired of the bitter partisanship."

On Guantanamo Bay: "The easy part, in all due respect, is to say we're going to close Guantanamo. Then I think I would have said where they were going to be taken. Because you're going to run into a NIMBY [not in my backyard] problem here in the United States of America."

On fiscal stimulus: "[It] is more of a spending package than a stimulus package."

"I hope we can work together to, frankly, be a real stimulus package and not just a spending package that has every cat and dog and pet project that people have."

On curbing deficit: "I think we should spend the money that we can immediately, but at the same time if we have a couple of quarters of positive GDP growth, then let's start reducing and eliminating the huge, massive, unprecedented deficits that are going to accrue from these actions."

On why he lost election: "I didn't pick Mitt Romney."

Yeah, made that up.

Sen. McCain also proposed new cuts or the complete elimination of payroll taxes, a puzzling proposal as it would deepen the federal deficit which he expressed the desire to reduce above if the cut in payroll taxes are not met with requisite reductions in entitlements.

Concerning the stimulus package, Senator McCain echoed the concerns of this party colleague in the lower chamber Rep. Cantor (R-VA) (see "Cantor Right On Stimulus") about wasteful spending. As a legislator who has railed against pork barrel spending, Sen. McCain will be an asset in reducing waste when crafting the final language of the bill for the President's signature. But as nearly 40% of the stimulus package is comprised of tax cuts, I think the esteemed senior Senator from Arizona will be more than willing to give it a wholehearted "yea."

Concerning President Obama's E.O. to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the Senator is correct to point out the problem of NIMBYism when attempting to relocate prisoners. However if the President had first attempted to determine exactly where to move the prisoners, he would never have found a willing host other than the Moon, one of the reasons the previous administration used in justifying the continued operation of the facility. Obviously one would rather not have these alleged terrorists on their soil, so waiting for hosts would mean the facility would continue to operate indefinitely. This is an outcome which both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as the President, refuse to accept. By issuing the E.O. to close the Bay, the President is attempting to bring due haste to the process of trying and if necessary prosecuting these captured combatants.

Concerning Romney, he still would have lost.

Caroline Kennedy withdraws, then doesn't, then does again. Aye aye aye. Though I've much to say, I'm not even touching this one, out of deep respect for my Kennedy-enamored colleague Mr. Beck.

Governor Paterson is set to name Secretary of State Clinton's successor in the Senate tomorrow. New Yorkers hold their breath. YOU READ IT HERE: Andrew Cuomo will not be the next Senator from New York.

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska hires Washington power broker Robert Barnett, who has delivered book deals for such names as President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama, and Obama For America campaign manager (read: genius) David Plouffe, according to Hollywood Reporter. Speculation of Palin campaign tell-all rampant. No confirmation on rumors book may instead focus on family moose recipes.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney insists former President Bush should have pardoned Cheney's former chief of staff I. "Scooter" Libby, a matter that was formerly relevant.

President Obama will maintain use of his custom made, encryption-enabled, high security "BarackBerry" with select senior staff. Send e-mail to

Go get dry.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Article II, Section I

Greetings raindancers! And welcome to a new era of the American Presidency.

I will have Inauguration celebration photos up soon, as well as a recount of the day's events. All I can say is those of us who were there on the National Mall will never, ever forget how we felt. But today's forecast raises a concern of mine stemming from one of yesterday's most important events: the swearing in.


Words cannot express my deep disappointment in and resentment of the Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts Jr. for his inexcusable flubbing of the presidential oath yesterday afternoon. For myself and people like me, the moment President-elect Barack Obama became President Barack Obama was the very moment we were most anticipating, the pinnacle of the past two years, the peaceful and historic transfer of power from one American citizen to another. Election Day was the launch from the tower; the oath was the moment we exited the atmosphere.

But there was a slight malfunction with one of our onboard instruments. Or perhaps I should say the mission was compromised by human error. Chief Justice Roberts, no doubt a highly intelligent, well-qualified, respectable man, was charged with fulfilling one of his duties and presiding over the swearing-in of the new president. First, the Chief Justice asked the president-elect if he was "prepared" to take the oath of office, but referred to him as "Senator," a title Mr. Obama hasn't held for a few months now. Then he began to administer the oath:

C.J.: "I, Barack Hussein Obama-"
PEOTUS: "I, Barack-"
C.J.: "-do solemnly swear,"

(Right here, the President-elect jumped the gun, not knowing that the Chief Justice wanted him to bite off a little more of the oath to spit out. A forgivable mistake in my opinion, merely a timing error. But it was nothing compared to the Constitutional mishap that occurred next)

PEOTUS: "I, Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear,"
C.J.: "that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully,"

(Now hold up. What? Mr. Roberts as I must remind you is the head of the judicial branch of government and, like the man he was swearing in, a Harvard Law graduate. But in spite of this he butchered one of the more memorable lines of the Constitution! "Execute the office of President TO the United States faithfully?")

PEOTUS: "that I will execute..."
C.J.: "faithfully the office of President of the United States-"
PEOTUS: "the office of President of the United States faithfully,"

(Right here the President-elect realizes the Chief Justice's error and smiles, granting Mr. Roberts a chance to correct himself, which he does not. He again misplaces "faithfully," placing it before the word "the" as opposed to before the word "execute." Aye, what a nightmare! Mr. Obama, having in the course of a second become acutely aware of how awkward and embarrassing this error had become in front of 2.5 million people and millions more watching at home, chooses then to just repeat what Mr. Roberts had initially recited in the hopes that the two men could quickly move on from a badly fudged introduction. From here on out, it was easy flying.)

C.J.: "and will to the best of my ability,"
PEOTUS: "and will to the best of my ability,"
C.J.: "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
PEOTUS: "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
C.J.: "So help you God?"
PEOTUS: "So help me God."
C.J.: "Congratulations, Mr. President."
POTUS: "Thank you."

This mistake could have deflated what rightly was one of the best moments of my life. For a few hours afterwards, after joining the millions of Americans at my side in welcoming in our new president, and after hearing him deliver one of the best speeches of his and my life, the flubbed oath STILL nagged at me. It drove me nuts. I'm more at peace with it now than before, as I have watched and rewatched the oath ceremony and focused on the smoother parts. But I'm still pretty upset. What made me even more angry was my fear that Mr. Obama's critics would use this "oops oath" as ammunition to prove that he was experiencing debilitating, unpresidential stagefright at his first truly presidential moment (bullshit), or that he harbored some menacing anti-American mental reserve that proves his malice and true evil intentions (I can see Michelle Bachman pissing herself in spasm).

Or that, as Fox News' own Chris Wallace insinuated on Tuesday, he was in fact not officially the President of the United States because he did not recite the oath exactly as it is appears in the Constitution, therefore invalidating his authority and his presidency.

The Constitution states: "Before [the President] enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: 'I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'"

However Section I of the 20th Amendment, ratified on January 23, 1933, states that "the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January."

So according to the 20th Amendment, which makes no mention of the oath, President-elect Obama was in fact President Obama at the time at which he began to recite the oath, since the oath was officially administered at 12:05 PM, five minutes after Mr. Obama's first term began.

So due to the language of the 20th Amendment, the oath is irrelevant, right? Well, not quite. Constitutional scholars argue that the 20th Amendment simply states that the four year terms of the President begins at noon on 01/20, but that the President does not enter upon the exercise of the Office at that moment. In other words, a President's term and his entering upon the execution of his duties are not coincidental. In order to enter the Office, the President-elect must recite the oath.

There's been a lot of talk about this since yesterday afteroon. According to my colleague Adam Beck, the right-wing, ever-predictable (we)blogosphere was aflame with conspiracy nutjobs claiming an illegitimate President now presided over the country. However major news networks also picked up on the potential Constitutional implications of the flub, bringing on guest legal scholars to discuss it. Many of these scholars, in addition to White House counsel's office, recommended that President Obama retake the presidential oath.

And so he did just that.

I am relieved to report that today at 7:35 PM in the White House Map Room, Chief Justice Roberts readministered (carefully) the Oath of Office, just in case.

"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday," White House counsel Greg Craig said in a written statement. "But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time," the statement read.

The second oath was administered without a Bible, which is not Constitutionally required (President John Q. Adams chose to use a book of U.S. Laws instead of a Bible). Before the Chief Justice began the oath, Mr. Obama insisted on doing it "very slowly."

So that's the end of it. The only legal issues I forsee potentially happening now would challenge the legitimacy of President Obama's first E.O.s issued last night and earlier today, which pertained to Guantanamo Bay, compensation for White House staff, and the role of lobbyists in the White House.

But President Obama has now, without question, entered into the exercise of his executive duties.

"The bad news for the [press] pool is there's 12 more balls," the President quipped.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


President Barack H. Obama

Step into the rain:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cantor Right On Stimulus

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, my former congressman representing the Virginia 7th wrote a very well-reasoned opinion piece for CNN that I thought I'd share. As part of the House GOP leadership, Rep. Cantor gives me good reason to believe Republicans in the House understand not only the necessity of the stimulus and its large scope, but also the importance of their role as a check on majority power rather than an obstacle to legislative progress.

Cantor's concerns about the stimulus package demonstrate foresight and responsibility on his part, and they reflect the concerns of both Democrats and Republicans across the country. I'm very pleased with Speaker Pelosi and President-elect Obama's insistence on granting the GOP a voice in the crafting of the stimulus; if congressmen like Cantor are contributing to it, this bill will only have a greater chance of accomplishing what it must while avoiding inefficiencies and waste.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Happy Inauguration Weekend raindancers!

I imagine all of you have planned out your weekends, particularly Tuesday's activities, with meticulous care and attention to logistical detail, right?

Turns out not so much. As I've moved (sluggishly) through my first week of classes I've noticed how startingly unprepared some of my fellow students are for the Inaugural festivities. Any inquiry into people's weekend intentions is met with a vague description of general activity and movement, hardly a cohesive P.O.A.

Well I shall have none of that. As I have been putting this off for far too long, it's time I commit to cyberpaper my official Inauguration Objectives:

1) Early start

The gates to the National Mall open at 9:00 AM, but as expected there will be large crowds lined up ready to admitted. As I don't want my entry to the Mall to be hindered by thousands of lame tourists, I mean, fellow Americans, I plan to get to to the security checkpoint on 6th St. NW (or to a checkpoint as close as walkably possible) at around 5:30-6:00 AM. I know this sounds crazy. Let's do it.

2) Dress warmly

It's January in Washington, so naturally the mercury will be hovering at around -48 degrees F on Tuesday morning (actual forecasts call for highs in the mid to upper 20s and partly cloudy skies with a chance of precipitation at 20%. Brr). I will be layering myself thoroughly and encourage all to do the same. I recommend wearing UnderArmor as your first layer if you have any. I also plan on bringing an umbrella (which contrary to popular belief is permitted on the non-ticketed Mall area. See "Prohibited Items" a little further down) just in case, even though any precipitation will be in the form of snow.

A detailed forecast for Tuesday can be found here:

3) Walk down

The walk to the Mall should be a lot of fun. I'll be joined by hundreds of other early birds on the streets making our way to downtown in the hopes of witnessing history as physically close as possible. As with anything on Tuesday, I plan to push myself as close to the action as possible. Which brings me to

4) Staking out a spot

Madison & 4th St. NW. That's exactly where I want to be. I know this sounds ambitious and that I will likely not get there, but that won't stop me from trying. As I don't have a ticket to the swearing-in ceremony, (thanks for nothing Senator Cardin. Two words: reelection defeat), I will be viewing it from the non-ticketed area just west of 4th St. NW on the National Mall. There'll be a jumbotron right there. No disrespect, but if John S. McCain were taking the oath I'd probably stand at the steps of the Lincoln. But this is different.

5) Wait

This will be the least enjoyable part. It'll be cold, it'll be crowded (which will certainly help with the cold), and it'll be longer than anyone would like.

6) Witness history

7) Listen to the President of the United States of America speak

8) Attempt to make way to parade route

This will be very difficult to do. Despite the fact that I will be literally at least one block and at most two or three blocks away from the parade route, the sheer amount of bodies will make it seem like a mile...of bodies. Mayor Fenty has said that watching the swearing-in ceremony AND the parade will be virturally impossible, and has advised that swearing-in ceremony attendees view the parade from one of the many jumbotrons on the Mall. Fair enough, I guess. Anyway, I plan to bring a backpack, and apparently they are not allowed along the parade route (see below).

9) Relieve myself

Because I'll probably have to. This will take considerably longer than normal.

10) Get home

Back to Ivory to eat and get ready for the Ball

11) Looking fly, head to Omni Shoreham

Around 8:30 PM.

Now there's been a lot of confusion about what time events start and what items are allowed or not allowed at the ceremony. The following is from the Washington Post's Inauguration Central website:

Inauguration Day Timing

Some of this information is preliminary. More detail will be added as it becomes available.

4 a.m. -- Metro opens (at rush-hour service and fare levels).
4 a.m. -- Monday extended alcohol service for bars and nightclubs ends; they can remain open 24 hours through Jan. 21.
8 a.m. -- Security gates open for ticketed guests
9 a.m. -- Ceremony gates open.
10 a.m. -- Musical prelude. See the full schedule.
Noon -- Ceremony ends, followed by the inaugural address, luncheon, departure of President Bush and parade.
2 p.m. -- Approximate start time for parade
7 p.m. -- Official balls start
9 p.m. -- Rush-hour Metro service levels end.
2 a.m. -- Metro closes.
4 a.m. -- Tuesday extended alcohol service for bars and nightclubs ends.

Prohibited Items

The Obvious:

No firearms (real or simulated)
No mace or pepper spray
No fireworks or other explosives
No animals other than service animals
No knives, blades or sharp objects
No pocket or hand tools such as the “Leatherman” (darn. gotta keep the Leatherman at home)

On the Mall:

No tents or that includes no camping out
No glass bottles
No alcohol (call your sponsor beforehand if need be)

Along the Parade Route:

No bicycles
No backpacks, large bags, suitcases or duffel bags. Bags smaller than 8 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches are allowed.
No aerosol cans, which could include silly string
No coolers
No thermal or glass containers
No chairs (except at opening concert) or strollers
Walkers and other devices for those with special needs are permitted.
Blankets are allowed
Signs are allowed, but only if they are no more than 3 feet in length, 20 feet wide or a quarter inch thick. They must be made out of poster board, cardboard or cloth.
Cameras are allowed; tripods and camera bags are not

That's it. Backpacks are fine (but are obviously subject to inspection), as are umbrellas, water bottles (as long as they're plastic), snack food, blankets, etc.

Here's what I'll be bringing:

Snack food (fruit, chips, etc.)
Lifesize Obama cardboard cut-out and Obama mask (in case he comes out afterwards to sign stuff and hang)

This map is fantastic (click to enlarge). Though at the bottom it says "people coming to watch the inauguration should enter the Mall from the south," which I don't quite understand. I guess we'll figure out a lot of stuff from other people and from authorities on Tuesday. I'm quite sure many of my above stated objectives have a great chance of failure. I'm prepared for this.

Tuesday will be at times anxious, hectic, cold, and most of all, exhausting. But it will also be memorable, historic, communal, emotional, FUN, and a great American event. And as an American, I wouldn't miss it for the world. Who's with me?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Licky Boom Boom Down

Canada has produced some genuine gifts to man. What more than maple syrup, French-Canadian strippers, and yours truly say you?

Well how about Shania Twain? If you disagree, I think you need some educating:

See now? Good. Happy to help.

Canada is also responsible for the electric wheelchair, ginger ale, the rollerskate, and the zipper (all invented by canucks). Then of course there's the world's greatest sport, hockey.

But nothing, I say nothing about the country of my birth can make its citizens more proud than Snow.

No, not the white powdery sky stuff (though they've got plenty of that and could probably make a case for patent rights). I mean the white badass funkmaster reggae artist from Ontario who peeked circa 1995. Check it mon:

This fast talkin', Jamaican-posin', Rastaman, whose stage name is not only appropriate given its subject's want of pigments, is also an acronym that stands for "Super Notorious Outrageous Whiteboy." In 1994 Snow (better known to his mother as Darrin O'Brien) took reggae to new heights with his hit single "Informer," featured above, in which with quick lips and totally raddd bifocals he seeks to clear up confusion about his roots, describes his hard upbringing in North York, ON, and details his brushups with Toronto's finest:

"People them say you come from Jamaica,
But me born an raised in the ghetto thats the one I want you to know,
Pure black people mon thats all I mon know.
Yeah me shoes are tear up an me toes used to show,
Where me born in on the one Toronto, so,

Informer, you no say daddy me snow me I'll go blame,
A licky boom boom down.
Detective mon said daddy me snow me stab someone down the lane,
A licky boom boom down."

You won't stop singing this for days. Your head will be snowed-in.

Canada's Poet Laureate.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Joe the [Insert Occupation Here]

Say it ain't so, Joe.

You all remember Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, the self-made everyman from Toledo, OH who famously informed then Senator Barack Obama he was purchasing a business he couldn't afford and asked for a tax cut he didn't deserve. And surely you remember when then desperate Senator John "The Mav" McCain and his Klondike Komrade Lipstick Palin reached down their real American hands and plucked Mr. Wurzelbacher from the crowd of regulars and made him a anti-big government, anti-socialism, anti-anti-American American hero, proving that all of us, even tax-evaders and the tragically ill-informed, have the right to hijack the national media in defense of What We Believe In.

Well now that same ol' Joe is making a career move.

Into journalism.

"I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting,” Wurzelbacher said. “You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, 'well, look at this atrocity,' well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it."

Well spoken, Joe. The media, that liberal, terrorist-aiding, freedom-hating bastion of tattertales needn't cover warfare anywhere, between anyone, any time. Ever. What need be studied, analyzed, and understood less than human conflict? Nothing.

Of course, this meshes well with Joe's outlook on the World He Knows.

Wurzelbacher, in a possible attempt to evade the IRS, arrived in Israel on Sunday to start a 10-day assignment for, a Web site run by the conservative media outlet Pajamas Media. The plumber/journalist/McCarthyite told reporters in Sderot that he wanted to cover Israel's side of the recent Gaza conflict because according to him, major media outlets were making it out to seem like "Israel’s being bad."

(To be fair to Joe, last week I saw Wolf Blitzer stare directly into the camera during The Situation Room, wave his finger and say sternly, "Bad Israel, baaaaaad," while Anderson shook his head disapprovingly behind him. Later, Campbell Brown slapped a Star of David with a rolled-up copy of The New York Times.)

So in keeping with what meshes with Joe's World View, in which the media should be banned from covering all war, Joe is going to Israel to....cover the war?

That's right, Joe the Plumber, Regular Citizen Hero, is now corresponding from Israel in order to properly spin, er, portray the conflict in its true light; Israel, in its righteous battle against Terror, is busting down doors and taking down names, smokin' out the evildoers from their Gaza duplexes and rounding up wanted terror-makers like cattle while spreading love and good cheer to good and benevolent Palestinians everywhere.

Joe says he's a “peace-loving man,” but that "when someone hits me, I'm going to unload on the boy.”

It's what Gandhi struggled to say.

On one of his first assignments, Joe got a real, unskewed, un-liberal-media-filtered perspective of the war; a rocket attack.

"I’m in the bunker, I’m sitting there angry, outright furious, that I’m letting this terrorist dictate what I’m going to do because they’re firing missiles," Wurzelbacher said. "It was fear at first, then outright anger, and then me wanting some kind of retribution. I’m not a person that runs from things, but when it’s a missile, you run."

America understands why you ran Joe.

But why stop there Joe? Why stop running? How can you return to your normal life in Ohio since you were so inconsiderately and unfairly thrust onto stage by that nefarious Barack Obama? Why stop when obviously there is a greater calling for you then just household sink repair and professional journalism?

Why not join Doctors Without Borders and perform neurosurgery for impoverished Sudanese children?

Why not found a school? The Samuel J. Wurzelbacher Institute of Opportunism. Sounds prestigious.

And make sure you write a memoir: "Joe. Unclogged and Unplugged." I know an agent who can get you set up.

The opportunities, I mean, God-mandated duties, abound for you dear Joe. But for now, keep fighting the good fight. Continue to dutifully and responsibly cover the war you were born to cover. And keep running from those missiles, Joe. It may feel like they're winning, but they can never beat you.

Speaking of running, I wonder if anyone has purchased yet...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

We Can Beat Anybody

The Eagles have been here before.

Andy Reid & Co. have been to the NFC Championship Game five times in the past ten seasons. Their team left to die in a heaping green mess just a few weeks ago, they have skippered their ship through storms, tempests, and even a tie. The team blown out by Baltimore in Week 12 with its franchise quarterback benched resembles nothing close to the team that just unraveled the defending champions this afternoon. I think many, even myself and my fellow faithful, are beginning to understand how truly strong this team is.

The Eagles still have a long way to go to find their elusive championship. They must earn a big win on the road against a hot yet underestimated team with something to prove in a game that has not been kind to them in the recent past. Then they must defeat either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens, two stalwart teams who possess defenses with a penchant for grinding their opponents into dust. But I truly believe that the Philadelphia Eagles that entered and exited the field of Giants Stadium today can defeat anyone, anywhere. We are witnessing a team inspired.

The mighty Giants have fallen. Who's next?

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Imagine a pristine valley through which two rivers flow and converge into a mighty torrent, carving the land into a wide, golden triangle. Picture a glistening metropolis upon this parcel of land, a city of spectacular bridges and soaring skyscrapers, bustling streets and sprawling freeways, carrying millions of contented urbanites into downtown and outwards to the high foothills of the Appalachians.

Now imagine...Pittsburgh?

If you're one of many Americans who are just like me, you may not have a strong mental impression of this great Western Pennsylvanian urbania. And while you may rest easy with that knowledge (or lack thereof), I would like to share with you some insight into the town one Sienna Miller so famously fell in love with:

Pro: All of Pittsburgh's major sports teams (Penguins, Steelers, Pirates) share the same color scheme, gold and black, fostering a sense of civic pride and saving on paint costs.

Con: They all suck.

Pro: Okay so they obviously don't always suck. The Pittsburgh Steelers have more Super Bowl championships than any other team in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Penguins are a model NHL franchise with smart, passionate ownership, young, hot talent, and a fiercely loyal fanbase.

Con: They play in the Consol Energy Center. Weaksauce.

Pro: Pittsburgh does not have (nor want) an NBA franchise.
Con: Pittsburgh does not have (nor want) black people.

DOUBLECON: The Steelers don't have cheerleaders.Wtf? Is that American?

Pro: The University of Pittsburgh Panthers men's basketball team routinely destroys the Hoyas of Georgetown (on GW's behalf).

Con: The University of Pittsburgh Panthers men's basketball team routinely chokes in the NCAA tournament.

Pro: Jeff Goldblum hails from Pittsburgh.

Con: Rush Limbaugh hails from Pittsburgh.

Pro: Pittsburgh's mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, is the youngest mayor of any major American city at 26.

Con: He still lives with his mom. Probably.

Pro: Pittsburgh celebrates its own local dialect, "Pittsburghese."

Con: No one from anywhere else knows what the hell they're saying. See "Con: Limbaugh."

Pro: Pittsburgh has the awesome nickname of "Steel City."
Con: No one makes steel in Pittsburgh anymore. It's high time they rename their football team to the Pittsburgh Health Care Computer Systems Specialists. And get cheerleaders. Or...librarians...

Pro: In 2007, Pittsburgh was rated "America's Most Livable City" by Places Rated Almanac
Con: No one reads that. Or lives in Pittsburgh. Especially if they're black.

Pro: The city was named for Sir William Pitt, by all accounts one of England's finest prime ministers

Con: Sir William's name rhymes with a colorful designation for excrement, to the delight of Philadelphians the world over.

Good or bad, Pittsburgh truly is a charming town. I have in my time come to know a few natives here and there, and once you get over the unintelligible dialect and pungent odor, they really are nice, friendly people. Whoclingtogunsandreligion.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Changing the Conversation: Obama Taps "Pro-Choice-Lifer" for DNC

(Originally written Monday, January 5th, 2009)

President-elect Barack Obama indicated his choice for Chairman Howard Dean's replacement at the DNC as Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine. Kaine, one of Obama's earliest endorsers and a serious contender for vice president on the Democratic ticket a few months ago, is a term limited governor (his first and only term as per Virginia law expires in 2010). Kaine won his gubernatorial race in a traditionally Republican stronghold in large part due to his frank and honest conversation about the role of his Roman Catholic faith in his life and how it influences his views on abortion and capital punishment, both of which he opposes. Politically, the latter position is in line with the majority of Kaine's party; the former however, is certainly not.

President-elect Obama's selection of Govenor Kaine as the head of operations of the Democratic Party is a brilliant one for many reasons. Kaine is a rising star in the party, representing the new, bold face of Democratic politics, living and breathing proof that Democrats can thrive in what are seen as traditionally "conservative" regions. The selection of Tim Kaine will ensure that the party builds upon its recent successes and make further inroads into its growing Hispanic constituency (as a Spanish speaker, Kaine is certainly no stranger when it comes to communicating to the Hispanic community).

This selection, while a strong one, is sure to draw ire from pro-choice groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood that form major constiuencies of the party. Many of my fellow Democrats will be quite riled to learn that on one of the core issues of the party, reproductive rights, the head of the Committee falls on the "wrong" side. However I believe this is the product of the President-elect's desire as well as a growing desire in the nation to change the conversation about abortion in America.

For far too long, the debate over abortion has fallen along two firmly entrenched positions: "pro-life" and "pro-choice." There is little deviation from these polar opposites (some pro-lifers make exceptions in special circumstances like rape, incest, or when the mother's life is threatened). However these two well-defined positions do little to advance any compromise on the issue and more so, they fail to make room for a growing number of Americans who view the act of abortion as contrary to their personal religious beliefs, but who refuse to impose this belief over every woman. For Americans such as myself and Governor Kaine who are informed by our personal beliefs to be "pro-life" but do not seek to strip fellow citizens of the right to choose through the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the usual lines of debate do not grant us a strong voice.

But as the generational battle over abortion rights wages into the twenty-first century, I forsee an increasingly large sentiment forming that will transform the nature of the battle. Through people like Governor Kaine, it is my hope that from the ranks of the two factions on both frontlines will emerge a new movement, one that supports the notion that while one's personal beliefs may oppose specific provisions of the law, they cannot, as dictated by the First Amendment, form the basis of organized opposition to those provisions. A woman has the right to choose in this country; this right is protected by law. And as long as the decision made in Roe v. Wade stands, our elected leaders must faithfully execute those laws (any method used of "sidestepping" the intended execution of the law must be done through Constitutional means; for example, the President or a governor can commute the sentence of a death row convict, as Governor Kaine has done in Virginia, through the powers granted to the chief executive by the federal and state constitutions). Let the brightest legal minds in the country (nine of whom I believe comprise the Supreme Court) debate the legality of this right not in the context of any religious doctrine but in the context of the Constitution. At the very least I think we can all agree that abortions should be safe, private, and more than anything, rare.

The President-elect's choice of Tim Kaine for the DNC chairmanship is bold and refreshing. Along with his choices for Cabinet positions and his choice of Rick Warren to give the Inaugural convocation, this choice reveals Obama's disdain of ideological grandstanding and demonstrates his willingness to surround himself, work with, and give a voice to people with whom he may have great differences in opinion. Obama is proving himself to be a true leader, one who has the courage of his own convictions and is unafraid of bucking party lines as opposed to one who scores easy points with the base through ideologically driven judgments. As someone such as myself at odds with most of his party on this issue, Governor Kaine, another bold leader, demonstrates how one can be a "pro-choice-lifer" without being a contradiction in terms.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sweet Caroline

(Originally written Tuesday, December 30th, 2008)

Dear Democrat,

I know you how much you adore the Kennedys. I know what they mean to you, to us in the party, and to our country. I understand it because I love them too! But I'm afraid I must commit a cardinal sin of our party; I must oppose the appointment of Caroline Kennedy to the soon-to-be vacated junior Senate seat of New York.

I'll begin with a statement that will likely make your skin crawl; I honestly cannot see how one can attack Sarah Palin's trumping up of her record to convince voters she was ready to be Vice President of the United States and then defend Caroline Kennedy's record as worthy of the United States Senate representing the state of New York.

Now for a few qualifiers. First, Sarah Palin is a festering moron; Caroline Kennedy is not (one case in point: Kennedy has a double-Ivy league education; Palin has...a lot of colleigate hoodies). Second, Caroline would make an infinitely better Senator than Sarah Palin would make anything (except for a folksy hunting/hockey mom/lipstick and sash wearing family matriarch on a new hit Fox Family series entitled "Palin' with Palin" Talks with execs are resuming after the holiday) let alone VP. Third, I'm sure Caroline reads The New York Times.

In spite of these differences between the two female pols, they do share quite a bit. They're both ambitious women who seek to make differences (for better or worse) in the world around them. They are both working moms. They are both charismatic (whether they mean to be or not). And as we've seen, they're both polarizing. And despite Caroline's family name, she still represents (or at least claims to) the everyday working mother, strong-minded woman trying to make it in a man's world. Caroline says she's not the "conventional choice" and that her experiences as a working mother and education reformer will help her relate more intimately to New Yorkers and their needs. Replace "New Yorkers" with "pro-America Americans" and it begins to sound familiar, right? Let me share with you an excerpt from an article in the Outlook section of today's WaPo entitled "She's a Kennedy, But She's a Lot Like Us":

"Amid all the recent buzz about Caroline Kennedy's bid for a U.S. Senate seat, there has been a great deal of talk about her connections, her power, her wealth. But the way I see it, if you strip away the glamour, the name and the money, then Caroline"

Remember when Sarah Palin, despite her status, her occupation, and her $150,000 wardrobe represented all the everyday Joe Sixpack Americans who were just like her in every way?

The columnist goes on: "Rather than a privileged aberration, I prefer to view Kennedy as a bellweather, a case study in how things could be if only the workplace were more accepting of an unconventional [resume], one that may brim with great experience and skills and talent but is also peppered with gaps."

Replace "Kennedy" with "Palin" and...well you see where I'm going.

I understand my comparison of Kennedy to Palin was somewhat unfair to Caroline, but that unfairness stems entirely from the perception (which we both know is a true one) that Sarah Palin is a backwater, uneducated redneck who catered to the worst elements of her party. But similarly, the Kennedy clan represents to some the very worst manifestation of unabashed liberalism, rampant immorality, and blatant nepotism. And while between you and me we certainly know who the better person is between these two individuals, in a meritocracy one must judge another by her record. Sarah Palin's record is consistent, and were she to challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski and run for the Alaska Senate seat, she'd certainly be qualified for it (on paper).

Caroline's record is diverse but somewhat haphazard, and it certainly does not help her that she refuses to stand scrutiny in the court of public opinion by being, as the NYT put it, "less like a candidate than an idea of one: forceful but vague, largely undefined and seemingly determined to remain that way." The above doesn't speak to my opinion on what kind of Senator Caroline could be; as I said earlier, I believe, as you do, that she would be fantastic. But for the purposes of this argument, what you and I are in agreement with is irrelevant. It is the means we are debating, not the end.

Here's where my problem lies, and I'm quite sure it's a grievance you've already heard. Explain to me how Caroline Kennedy would ever be remotely considered by Governor Paterson or any other governor in the country for a U.S. Senate seat if her name was or Caroline Schlossberg? or Caroline Palin? or Caroline Wurzelbacher?

What has she done to merit consideration outside of being born a Kennedy?

Yes, yes, I know you've heard the whole nepotism argument used against the prospect of another Sen. Kennedy (D-NY). And I know your well-founded love affair with all things Kennedy has convinced you that Caroline would be a boon to the people of New York and America. I too was at first enthralled by the notion, and was thrilled to see the Democratic establishment rally around it. The storyline surrounding it is incredible. Little "sweet Caroline" growing up to inherit her lionized and heroic uncle's office. Sounds like a script, right? But the key word here is "inherit." Don't get me wrong, she has led an impressive career even in a family familiar with high-expectations. But is she worthy of a seat in the United States Senate? And if in fact she is, should she be handed it? She may make a good Senator, but should she be made a Senator?

Let's talk about public opinion. You are correct to point out that she is very popular, the leading choice for the vacant seat. Is this the only criterion upon which Governor Paterson should make his decision? Of course not. As any person with a fair amount of experience in politics surely knows, public opinion polls do not translate into actual support. Keep in mind that Sarah Palin (to raise her ugly spectre again) ranks high in Republicans' choice for nominee in 2012. Now Democrat, we both would love for these poll numbers to actualize, but you and I both know she'll never win the nomination. Using public opinion polls to justify Caroline's selection is cheap. To truly demonstrate public support, one must pass the public opinion poll that really counts: an election.

In her NYT interview, Kennedy said of herself, "I'm really coming into this as somebody who isn't part of the system." Really? She is the system. Even if she hasn't been directly involved in politics, she still represents, for better or worse, old-style politics. She is a Kennedy, just like George is a Bush and Hillary is a Clinton. She's the very thing voters showed they've grown tired of this year. But you and I know better. You and I know that Caroline Kennedy is not to New York as George W. Bush is to America. But if that's true, it must not be taken for granted; rather, it must be demonstrated. Caroline had a golden opportunity to show to the country that her family and what they represent are not only still relevant, but are still demanded and desired by the people. She had the opportunity to demonstrate, to convince, to win. She had the opportunity to silence the critics and carry on the Kennedy mantle with poise and in victory. She instead chose to tie the governor's hands.

Which brings me to my central point; why didn't Caroline announce her candidacy in 2010? Why not run for the office instead of backing the appointer into an uncomfortable corner? Why not spend a few months on the campaign trail next year convincing the voters of New York of her merit? Why risk the inevitable embarrassment caused by not being chosen? Does she not believe in the possibility in this outcome ("I'm a KENNEDY DAMNIT!")

In the same interview with the Times, Caroline revealed that she came to the decision to go public with her Senate ambitions "a few weeks ago." Why, instead of hastily throwing herself into contention for the appointment, did she not choose to spend these next two years garnering support, building a team, gathering ammunition on Guiliani and Pataki, and winning an election in true Kennedy fashion, boldly and convincingly? If New Yorkers love her now, won't they love her in a year?

Now you may say, "well even if she's appointed, she still has to win in 2010." This is true. But the point is she wouldn't even have that opportunity if it weren't for who she is related to. There are plenty of more qualified people who the governor, acting in the interest of his state, could and should choose. Andrew Cuomo comes to mind, a much more qualified Democrat and, like Caroline, one of New York's favorite children. Have you seen him so publicly declare his desire to become the junior Senator of New York? No. But do you for one minute doubt he wants it? Probably not.

When asked why she wasn't running for the Senate seat in 2010, Kennedy said,"Actually, I think that actually a campaign would be an easier way [to earn the Senate seat], because I think it would give me a chance to explain exactly what I'm doing, why I would want to do this, and, you know, and get people to know me better and to understand exactly what my plans would be, how hard I would work."

Exactly, Caroline. Despite your bogus claim that somehow a campaign would be "an easier way" to the Senate, it's the path you should have taken. If you are sincere about the job, you earn it. You don't demand it.

Hell, she's a Kennedy. Why couldn't she win an election? Say what you want about Sarah Palin and her baseless sense of entitlement. But at least she wasn't banking on her name to win.

Look Democrat, we just elected a man to the presidency with no family name to be proud of. He was the "heir apparent" to nothing. Now his name is the sound of hope and change the world over. He proved that in this country your father and his father have no say in the outcome of your own success. This country has always strived to be a meritocracy, and while it's fallen short of that many times in the past, the least we can do is resist the forces working against this noble goal when we identify them. I'm dying to see another Kennedy in the Senate. But not just because she's a Kennedy.

We do need a Kennedy in the Senate. And it's because of the reasons you and I know and agree on. The family brand represents something powerful, something invincible. They are a symbol that our party, and in your and my opinion, the country, cannot afford to lose. John, Robert, and Edward earned their stature as lions. They won. Caroline cannot deny that they are the sole reason she's even a serious contender for the appointment. If she weren't a Kennedy and still wanted the job badly enough, she'd be quietly working the backrooms in uptown cocktail receptions and fundraisers in Manhattan, building her ground team two years in advance for the run of her life. But instead she decided to bank on the name and fame of her family to catapult her into the High Chamber. What kind of message does that send? That our party is a family affair? That our surnames do in fact grant us undue favor when we are told from a young age they needn't matter because we are what we work for? I'm not naive enough to think that a family name doesn't or shouldn't mean anything. It does and it should. But whether it's the Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons, Osmonds, or Obamas, a family must prove its worth, not demand deference.

We do need a Kennedy in the Senate. But I do care how she gets there. Let the people of New York decide with levers.


Fellow Democrat

P.S. I think New Yorkers are catching on:

Welcome to my Web Log, Folks!

That's right, I said web (space) log. None of this "blog" nonsense. Do you drink Smilk? No, you drink skim milk (and you should stop). Do you shop at Bagap? No, your sister-in-law will be returning that lovely sports-coat/overall/diaper get-up you bought her for the baby shower to The Baby Gap. The only time I believe this normally egregious act is acceptable is when requesting a utensil device with both spoon and fork-like qualities. We as a society must end our sinful misuse of our most sacred form of communication, language.

My generation has witnessed the advent of wholly novel forms of communication and enhancements to our social capital. The glorious rise of e-mail, SMS, IMs, Myspace, Facebook (fbook), Twitter, and yes, BLOGS has led to an unprecendented level of potential for communication with each other. Unlike those alive just a mere quarter century ago, humans today have the ability to contact one another in near real-time from the most extreme opposite ends of the Earth.

And with this great potential comes an even greater potential for cultural understanding, interconnectedness, global integration, and even capital W orld capital P eace. Right?

Sometimes I wonder if years from now, when we're old, we'll look at stills of each other through electronic screens and ask ourselves, "why don't we talk anymore?"

Alas, I have resigned to allow the answers to such questions to be revealed in due time. For now, I'm gonna web log baby. This web log will cover a variety of subjects: music, politics, sports, offhand observations, (attempted) clever musings, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of pursuit, food, culture, style, the arts and whatever else compels me to engage. My prose will likely make trite attempts to wax poetic one day but be hard-nosed and journalistic the next. No matter where it takes me, I'm going to do my very best to not use it to grandstand and soapbox. I will vow not to bully or demean, unless the target of my ire clearly sucks. And I shall try my hardest not to intentionally butcher the English language in the process.

On second thought, if we're going to speak to each other through 140 character-limited "tweets" then we r gon 2 ned th xtra spce.

Somewhere, Orwell is spinning like a rotisserie chicken. Or a turducken.