Category Archives: Politics

Obama Bobbles Oath of Office; Al Franken to Contest Inauguration Results

In related news, Oliver Stone announced that he will write and produce a new movie, “The Shadow President,” based on the faulty swearing-in. When reminded that President Obama was a Democrat, he suddenly announced that the film would be “something about Dick Cheney.”

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If I Ran The Zoo

On the radio station I wake up to, the morning show team was talking about the practicality of holding the election on a weekday, when people had to work. They pondered the idea of holding the election on a weekend or making voting day a holiday (The Junior Senator from Illinois advocated taking election day off – but wouldn’t that actually bring out more Republicans?).

This made me think of all the things I’d do differently if I were to retool our way of electing officials. Here’s what I’ve come up with over the last few years…

States Must Continually Verify Voter Registrations
It’s ridiculous for Voter Registration Organizations (ACORN) to overwhelm states with new additions to the voter rolls (Ohio) so close to an election. The strategy is surely to let some questionable ballots slip through. We have the technology to make keeping voter rolls clean an ongoing process. Voter registration should also be an ongoing process. It’s foolish to wait until things are in full swing to try and clean house. It should be kept clean from the start.

A Short Season
Campaign 08 has managed to drag on for two years. Yeah, that’s right. It was 2006 when the Junior Senator and Miss Hillary started sparring with a handful of other Democrats for the nomination. This has caused a lot of burnout on both sides of the aisle, and it also keeps Senators, Congressmen, and Governors away from their duties.

So how about: no talk of running for office until October of the year before the election. Any potential candidates then have 90 days to debate and raise money. There’s a two-week primary period during which the respective candidates are chosen. Then another ninety days, and then the election. An election cycle with the end clearly in sight – talk about a way to keep voters motivated!

Polls Forbidden
Polling would be forbidden from the beginning of the Election Cycle until the new President took office. Why? Because they’re an inexact science no matter how careful the pollsters allegedly are with their sampling, making them utterly useless other than as propaganda for one side or the other. They also can instill overconfidence in one side and burn out voters, especially when the election cycle runs as long as this one has.

I’ve been watching election polls since Ford v. Carter, and even worked as an exit poller for ABC News one year. I can tell you how the polls will run every election year:

2 Years Before The Election:
Any Democratic candidate would beat any Republican candidate.

1 Year Before The Election:
Democratic frontrunners would beat any Republican candidate.

Six Months Before the Election:
The Democratic frontrunner would beat the Republican frontrunner.

After the Democratic Convention:
The Democratic candidate would beat the Republican frontrunner.

After the Republican Convention:
The Republican candidate would beat the Democratic candidate. But that’s what is called a “convention spike”.

Two weeks after Republican convention to Two weeks before the Election:
The Democratic candidate has experienced some slippage, but maintains a commanding lead.

One Week Before the Election:
The race has become close, very close, but the Democratic candidate maintains the lead.

Election Eve:
It’s a statistical dead heat! Who can call it?

After the election:
It’s a shocker! The Republican won! Who could have known?

By eliminating polling, you would also force media outlets to report on the candidates themselves rather than falling back on a stale old platitude (“A commanding lead in the polls”) to carry their reportage.

No More “Get The Vote Out”
Voting is a right, but it’s also a civic duty. It’s kind of like serving in the military in that respect. If someone doesn’t want to vote, let them not vote. They will surely get the government they deserve. And let’s face it, there are some people who shouldn’t be voting – and there’s something fundamentally dishonest about putting a pen in their hand and marking an X if they don’t understand what they’re doing. Likewise loading people on a bus and pointing them toward the polls.

This is not to say if someone cannot get to the polls they don’t deserve a ride. Let’s get people who want to vote out there. I just think it’s wrong to truck warm bodies to polling places and encouraging their votes with a hot coffee and a Baby Ruth bar. Doesn’t that smack of the Draft to you?

The Purple Finger This is my favorite thing to come out of the Iraq war – the pictures of people leaving the polls, proudly waving their ink-stained fingers. That, friends, is what we fought for. And we should do that here.

That’s right. Forget the red, white and blue stickers for your lapel. Dip your finger in a well and get a true symbol of your patriotism. Besides discouraging voter fraud at the point of contact, it gives you a chance to harass those who didn’t vote for the week it takes the ink to wear off of your finger.

New Voting Day: April 16th
This should be a no-brainer. Not a solid date, of course, since they move the date your income taxes are due if April 15th falls on a weekend. But the day after they are due should be the day we go to the polls. I told this idea to my wife and she said, “If we did that, nobody would ever be re-elected.” What a shame, right?

Wait Until the Fat Lady Sings
Without exit polls and projections, people on the left coast would be spared from vote-discouraging projections (this was supposed to be “fixed”, but projections have been creeping back in of late). Also, states would be free to count the votes without worrying about some reporter’s deadline. It could probably all be done in one night, but if it takes two weeks to get it counted right, hey…

Instant Transition
So you’ve won the election! Congratulations! Now you have to wait three months while you grab headlines with word of your “transition team” and speculation on your cabinet appointments. I like how the British do it. If you’re on the losing end of the election, your lease at Number 10 Downing Street pretty much ends the next day. Make the switch within a week to give the President a chance to sign his controversial pardons. This would also put an end to three months of miscellaneous lame duckery.

One 6-Year Term
The President shall serve only one six-year term. That way he or she can do the job without losing focus during the re-election process. Besides, shaving two years of lame duckery off the end of most Presidential second terms instantly improves their record. For example, Iran Contra happened in the last two years of Ronald Reagan, and Monica Lewinsky happened in the final two years of Bill Clinton. How would their respective records look without those stains? Even Nixon would have fared better – no re-election worries, no Committee to Re-Elect the President – which, besides being responsible for Watergate, was unfortunately acronymed as CREEP. Now you can look back on that whole China visit thing without wincing!

Also, there shall be no talk of changing the rules for a second term, just like it annoys me when people talk about third terms for popular Presidents. I was against it when they talked about doing it for Reagan, and I was really against it when the talk was the same for Clinton. And mark my words. If the Junior Senator wins and doesn’t get routed out of office in 2012, there will be talk in 2016 of pulling the plug on that messy constitutional restriction.

So that’s my take on election reform. Eight short months from the time the candidates announce to the time a new President takes office. That’s how it should be in a perfect world – well, my perfect world, anyway. There’s still lots of other things I need to work on, like that whole messy fundraising thing, the stuff that McCain-Feingold either compounded or didn’t seem to do anything about. But that’s something for another day. Or another election cycle.

Obamapoly

Barack Obama is promising to bring change if elected. Now you can experience Obama’s brand of change first-hand, before you vote, to see if you like his policies. All you need is a Monopoly game. It might not be easy or fun – but it will give you a real taste of things to come!

THE BANK

There is no banker in Obamapoly. Instead, the player who distributes the money to players is called The Government. The player who is the government does not play like the other players, but is still able to accumulate property and conduct business, as specified below.

THE RULES

Play proceeds mostly as normal, with the following exceptions.

1) Players should keep their money in three piles. The Old Money, which is what they have accumulated on previous turns; New Money, which are funds taken in since last passing Go; and Tax Money, which is 10% of the value of the player’s property, houses and hotels.

2) When players reach Go again, they may not pass it. Instead, they must stop on it and wait for other players to catch up.

THE GO PHASE (APRIL 15th)

Once all players are stopped on Go, the following things happen.

1) Players give their Tax Money to The Government. If they do not have tax money set aside, the government may collect 20% of any monies on hand or seize property to cover the debt.

2) Players must also give The Government 10% of their Old Money.

3) The Government then looks at the New Money collected by all the players. The player with the most New Money becomes “The Top 5%.”

Let’s say on April 15th, the situation looks like this:

Player 1: $150
Player 2: $200
Player 3: $70
Player 4: $50

Player 2 then becomes “The Top 5%.”

The Government then collects half of the New Money from all players. The amount due in our example would look like this:

Player 1: $75
Player 2: $100
Player 3: $35
Player 4: $25

Thus, the players are left with these amounts and The Government collects $235. The Government now “spreads the wealth around” and gives the remaining 95% of Americans a “Tax Cut.” The amount given to each player should leave them with the same amount of New Money that “The Top 5%” has left. Looking at our example:

Player 1: $75 + $25 = $100
Player 2: $100 + $0 = $100
Player 3: $35 + $65 = $100
Player 4: $25 + $75 = $100

The “Top 5%” of course, receives nothing.

If not all of the monies are redistributed, The Government keeps what is left over. In our example, having redistributed $165 of the $235 collected, The Government may now pocket the remaining $70.

Having completed the Go Phase, players may now collect $200 and continue play until reaching Go again. Begin with the player who was the poorest before April 15th.

MORE RULES

3) If a player does not have enough money to pay another player Rent, he or she may petition The Government to intervene. The Government may do this by a), dictating a fair price for rent that the player can afford, or b) subsidizing the player’s rent by paying it out of Government funds (formerly “The Bank”).

4) A player never leaves the game because of Bankruptcy. A player who has lost everything may petition The Government for a Bailout, after which The Government pays their rent for the remainder of the game.

ENDING THE GAME

Obamapoly ends when:

1) The Government runs out of money, or,

2) The Government owns all of the property on the board, or,

3) All Non-Government players quit in disgust.

DETERMINING THE WINNER

Everyone wins. It is more fair that way.

HOUSE RULES

Do not use any house rules when playing Obamapoly. They are not fair.

Election 2008: By the Numbers

Prompted by my son, I have put up a John McCain yard sign on my Facebook page. I think I would have preferred one that said We’re Screwed ’08, because neither presumptive candidate really has me fired up. For the record, I haven’t been really excited about a Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan, but we can’t always get what we want, right?

However, I’ve thought it through and have decided that if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need. Now maybe we don’t need John McCain or Barack Obama right now, but I think McCain has more of what we need than the question mark from Illinois.

How did I determine this? By the numbers, of course.

  • 0 – The number of days it took me to figure out that Obama was destined to run for President. Watching the election returns in 2004, I listened to how the media was gushing over a man who had done nothing but turn up and win an election against a Republican carpetbagger – and I turned to my wife and said, “Listen to this. The media is going to have him running for President before long.”
  • 1.6% – The percentage of bills in Senate on which The Junior Senator from Illinois was sponsor that actually passed. Two out of 123, to be exact. One was a relief bill for the Congo Republic, the other designated a “National Summer Learning Day.” Heavy.
  • 2 – The number of years that The Junior Senator from Illinois was The Junior Senator from Illinois before he announced that he was running for President. Must have been his tremendous legislative record that inspired him. Or the Media. But they wouldn’t do that, right?
  • 4 – The number of years I was off in guessing when The Junior Senator from Illinois would run. My wife asked, “You think he’ll run in ’08?” I said, “No, ’08 will be Hillary’s year. Besides, he won’t have enough experience to run after just four years. I look to see him in 2012.” Stupid me.
  • 129 – The number of times in the Illinois Senate that the current Junior Senator from Illinois voted “present” as opposed to “yes” or “no” – seen now as a face saving measure so he could say he did not vote “for” or “against” lightning rod issues like abortion, penalties for concealed weapons, and building strip bars near schools. The Junior Senator’s people are saying that many of these “present” votes were precipitated by badly written laws, or legislation with poison pills in them, preventing him from wanting to vote “for” them – but that being the case, wouldn’t a “no” have sufficed?
  • 146 – The number of days that The Junior Senator from Illinois was The Junior Senator from Illinois before he set up a Presidential Exploratory Committee. Not even six months of Senate experience. Robert Heinlein said that the best choice for President is a someone who doesn’t want the job. Like Bill Clinton before him, The Junior Senator wants the job far too badly to deserve election. It’s a privilege, not a destiny. And a role of service, not an anointing.
  • 80, 75, 72, 72, 70 – The ages of the five oldest Supreme Court justices and the factor that really brought me around to McCain. It’s not just that I shudder at the possibility of Supreme Court Justice Clinton (either one) as a political payback for this year’s nomination blowout. It’s the tendency of Democratic appointees to write laws from the bench as opposed to interpreting the constitution (which is why I favor periodic elections to retain SCOTUS appointees, much like we do with local judges). McCain may have some cranky ideas on who should inherit the next open black robe, but I’d rater take my chances with his choices than more bench legislators.

That’s my analysis. So this year I’m getting out the nose plugs and voting for McCain.

What would excite me about voting for him? Condi Rice as his running mate. Her presence on the ticket would defang both the “woman” thing (if Hillary continues to be a player), and the “black” thing. And there’s one really, really important thing about Rice that I like.

She doesn’t want the job.

Update 7/17/08: Added 1.6 and 2 to the list.

Why Barack Obama is Currently Trouncing Hillary Clinton in the Primaries

It’s because Hillary has played the gender card more than Obama has played the race card.

For that matter, Hillary has even played the race card more than Obama.

Obama is running a smart race. The problem is, outside of beating Alan Keyes for the Illinois senate seat, he hasn’t done anything. All he did was win an election and the media anointed him a political savior. I made the prediction on election night 2004 that he would be running for President this year, just based on how the news networks were falling all over themselves to praise him.

If Barack Obama has done anything wrong, it’s that he has started to believe the press. But that won’t help Hillary Clinton right now.

Gorefest, or, How Green Was My Answer

I’m posting this at the left-handed behest of a friend of mine. It’s a dream I had, but it was no doubt triggered by a dream he had about me, in which I was married to Nicole Kidman1. He told me that Ms. Kidman was much nicer than he expected, and I told him of course she was – she was married to me after having had Tom Cruise, after all.

Anyway, no doubt filled with confidence because of my celebrity marriage, I somehow got up on the stage at the Al Gore Awareness Concert Live Earth and interrupted Mr. Gore while he was speechifying. I told him I wanted to ask him my Three Questions that I want every Global Warming Alarmist to answer.

To my surprise, he agreed. But as I asked the first question, he started dodging the answers, which only made me think of more questions. So the end result was like Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch2: “Okay, now I have SIX questions.”

Incidentally, I really do have Three Questions for the Alarmists to answer. They are:

1) If man and modern technology are causing Global Warming, then what caused the temperature rise through the 14th century that made England warm enough to cultivate grapes?

2) If man and modern technology are causing the Earth to warm up, what is causing Mars to warm up at roughly the same rate?

3) If man-made Global Warming is scientifically verifiable, why are growing numbers of its supporters calling for censure or punishment for their peers who are skeptical of our guilt ( e.g., the Weather Channel exec who wants to revoke the AMS Certification of doubters, or RFK Jr.’s statement that skepics are traitors)?

In the dream they were funnier. So were Gore’s answers.

Listening: “Torch” – Soft Cell (Memorabilia – The Singles)

  1. I certainly do get around in other people’s dreams. Early in our marriage, my wife dreamed that I ran off with Elizabeth Taylor. Not to mention the one I had about Meg Ryan.
  2. Quite possibly the funniest piece of sketch comedy ever written. I laugh every time I see it. For another piece of Python genius that always gets me, here’s their World Hide and Seek Championship sketch. And here’s a bit of brilliance from SCTV that you literally will not see on TV due to music licensing issues.

An Open Letter to Pat Robertson

Dear Pat,

I see you’re in the news again. You’ve turned your hand from praying away hurricanes to calling down the wrath of God on people who irritate you. Like calling for the assassination of the president of Venezuela, or telling the citizens of Dover, PA that God wouldn’t answer the prayer phone if disaster struck their town.

Now you’ve announced your schadenfreude over the failing health of Israel’s president, Ariel Sharon, whose peace overtures to the Palestinians went against your own interpretation of scripture.

Well this Christian is tired of explaining to the lost in this world that you don’t represent the type of Christianity that I believe in, that you’re a rogue state, a loose cannon, a stiff-necked Pharisee who specializes in bludgeoning anyone within earshot with Old Testament Wrath of God punishments. This Christian is tired of the mainstream media trotting you out every time you say something ill-advised, holding you up as an example of “what those Christians believe.” This Christian is tired of you being an embarrassment and is tired of trying to make up for your ill-advised behavior.

So what I’d like to do is refresh your memory on some things you have obviously forgotten since your early days – if indeed you ever knew them at all.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a book that comes after the Old Testament. It’s called the New Testament, and it’s got a bunch of stuff in it about how God sent his Son to redeem all of mankind, not just the chosen nation that, time after time, turned their backs on him. Some would say it reveals a kinder, gentler God, but remember that this is the plan that he had in mind all along – he just had to wait for the world to catch up with him.

Just like now. God is waiting for the plan to play out. The end may come before I finish writing this – or it may be in 10,000 years. It’s not my job to know. And here’s a flash for you. It’s not your job, either.

What gives you special information on the time of The End, an event that not even Christ knows the hour of (he says so himself – in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32)? Are you laboring under the misapprehension that you can be kingmaker and bring the end about on your timetable? You’d be better off building a secret island fortress, hiring a hundred thugs, and planting an atomic bomb in Fort Knox. Certainly, it would be a better use of your time.

Now about these smirking assertions that those who meet with misfortune had it coming from God. If what you say is true, then why did it take the deaths of 6,000,000 Jews for God to wake up and finally corner Adolf Hitler in a bunker in Berlin? Or, by your way of thinking, did they “have it coming” too? What about the Poles, the French, the British, the Canadians, the Russians, the Americans, and yes, the Germans who also died during that war? Did they have it coming, too?

Perhaps you’ve forgotten Matthew 5:45, which tells us that the sun rises and falls, and the rain comes down on the just and the unjust. We’re all sinners. We face the consequences of our sin. But sometimes we suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin. Get used to it.

How about this business with threatening your enemies? Assassination, natural disaster with no hope of help. If you really could turn back hurricanes with your prayers, you could have taught a lot people about the true nature of God’s love by showing up in New Orleans recently, or in Florida many times over the last couple of years. Instead, you gave smug suppositions on why God smote the cities affected.

Why help sinners? Well, the person who should be your role model and taught us by example, Jesus Christ, kept a woman caught in adultery from being executed (John 8:3-11). If you’re hung up on gratitude, remember that he also healed ten lepers and only one came back to thank him (Luke 17:12-19) – so don’t expect it.

Here’s more inconvenient New Testament guidance set forth by the Son of God. Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). And pray for them, even when they persecute you (same verse). If they’re not going to listen to your words (and believe me, those numbers plummet every time you open your mouth), we’re not instructed to call down an air strike of Holy Napalm. I believe the advice is to shake the dust from your feet (Mark 6:11, also Matthew 10:14 and Luke 9:5) and move on.

Need I remind you that the fire ‘n brimstone approach wasn’t really Christ’s style? He told Peter that he could have called 12 legions of angels to defend against the mob that came to arrest him, but didn’t (Matthew 26:53). In fact, the only one I can think of who asked Jesus to call out the troops was Satan (Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:9-11). He was tempting Christ and quoting scripture in order to make his point. If that doesn’t make you think, it should.

I realize that the idea of a loving New Testament Jehovah is not as much fun to wield as the Old Testament one who brought down floods, fires, plagues, and the sword on his enemies, not sparing beasts, women or children. But that’s the way things are now. Have you even stopped for a moment to consider how many people you’ve kept from reconciling their lives with God because you keep opening your mouth and bludgeoning them with an outdated covenant that wasn’t even meant for them?

It’s a good thing that the God I worship is one of love and mercy. Because you’re going to need as much of both as you can get in order to be cut some slack when your time comes.

So if you can, think about what you’re doing and the damage you’re doing to the cause you profess to support.

In the meantime, please… shut up, shut up, shut up.

Oh yes. I’ll be praying for you. But probably not in the way that you’d ask.

In Christ,
Joe Clifford Faust
Phillippians 4:8

(Thanks to Drudge, Mark Daniels, Accidental Blogger, The Volokh Conspiracy, and Ace of Spades HQ)