Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Guest Blog: Gunfighter on the Israel/Hamas Conflict

You know something? Despite what I think about my broad foreign-policy experience, there is no one in the world who is looking for my advice in diplomatic matters. Now, that could be for a number of reasons, the first and foremost would probably be that I have no experience in foreign relations… I have never been trained as a diplomat, you see, so I suppose that you could (if you were an uncharitable soul) say that my opinions don't really mean much in this arena. Having said that, whether it is true or not, I still have some things to say about the things that I see happening in the world. In this case, I am talking about the current Israel/Hamas conflict.

You see, I don't need to be a diplomat, or a General, or a Senator, or an academic to get right down to the elements of what's going on there. Why not, you ask? Because it isn't very complicated… that's why not.

From where I sit, this little fracas (well, it's little if you ain't under fire) is a lot like two kids who live on the same street. One of the kids is bigger, stronger, and more capable than the other kid, who is scrappy, full of fight, and determined to be out of the other kid's shadow. This little kid demands respect, even though nobody likes him. No one likes him because he is the local criminal, thug, hooligan and all-around pain in the ass. This doesn't mean that the bigger kid is a saint… far from it, but at the end of the day, the bigger kid usually leaves people alone unless they threaten him.

Well, eventually, the smaller kid decides that he needs to get the attention of the big kid. He seems to have forgotten that the last time he made a real pest of himself; he took a good smacking…. So what does this kid go and do? He takes a sharp, pointy stick, and starts jabbing the big kid (I told you, this kid wasn't very bright). The little kid figures that the big kid will just take it, since the last time the big kid got a lot of grief for smacking the little kid around.

He was wrong.

In this instance, most of the people on the block, except for the real idiots, figured that the little kid really earned his beating this time, and while they weren't happy that the little kid was getting his a$$ kicked, they figured he had it coming, and kept silent.

The moral of this story is that smaller countries shouldn't pick on their bigger, stronger neighbors, unless you want to bring a beating (or air strikes) down on your own heads.

I'll tell you what: If I were in charge of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) in this little fracas, there wouldn't be two bricks standing in formation in Gaza. Nor would there be anyone capable of carrying an AK-47 left standing.

It's time for this crap to end.

When he isn't pontificating about world events, teaching combat firearms for a federal law enforcement agency, or cooking, Gunfighter can be found blogging about other things that he knows nothing about at Gunfighter: Life of a Modern Warrior

Monday, December 29, 2008

Got a Question? The Obama Transition Team has Answers -- and Plenty of Sunlight

The Obama Presidential Transition continues to be one of the speediest ever -- this bodes well for the new president's ability to decisively govern in these chaotic times. While the team as tried to keep some things -- like the vetting of potential cabinet officers -- close to the vest, in other ways the transition process has been one of the most open and interactive in history. The Obama team is playing it smart, and converting their grassroots machinery from that of a get-out-the-vote operation to policy participation. This also bodes well for the new president's style -- because when it's all said and done, people just want to know they've been heard. Folks want a forum to vent, share ideas, connect -- and even if they are not happy with the end decision they are still much more likely to be supportive simply because they were part of the process. I expect this formidable machine will also soon be aimed at Congress -- in the form of constituent email and phone calls -- as the Obama administration seeks to implement some of its proposals.

Have you been participating in the transition process? I have -- through work via many many meetings, but also personally through the change.gov website. My professional interactions with the team have been productive and useful. The Transition Team clearly wants to hear from constituency groups, and are interested in concrete ideas -- not rhetoric. I have found this to be very refreshing -- I don't have to prove to them there's a (healthcare, economic, housing, crime, education, etc,) crisis -- they know this already. What the team cares about are serious suggestions for righting the ship. These meetings are public, in a sense, because of the Your Seat at the Table feature. Here you can view information submitted to the Transition Team -- they post EVERY document they get, so much so that advocacy organizations are now careful about what they give the team in writing. At the very beginning of the transition process, some stuff that was intended to be confidential -- that details strategy and opposition research, for example -- was posted, much to the senders' chagrin. Still, is there such a thing as too much sunlight? People are adapting, trust me.

The agency review teams are also drawing to a close, and their work has been critically important. The reviews teams are responsible for essentially evaluating the agencies to see what is happening as well as what is NOT happening, including what has been discontinued, shelved, overly politicized, or just plain screwed up beyond all recognition. From the web site:

The Agency Review Teams for the Obama-Biden Transition will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisers with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration. The Teams will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in.

Impressively, most of the folks on the review teams are volunteers. Highly connected, very experienced, committed volunteers. Many used to work for the federal government before the Bush administration scared away anyone who was even remotely progressive, cared about good government, disagreed with them or, god forbid, were "out" Democrats. Yep, openly blue Democrats were often ousted after witch hunts -- you think it only happened at the Department of Justice? If only that were the case -- these last eight years have seen the most severe, crippling brain drain and loss of institutional memory the federal government has ever experienced, brought to you by Bush/Cheney and their minions. Now, these good people on the agency review teams -- some Democrats, some not, but all part of a Democratic government in exile -- have returned to try to clean up the mind-boggling mess that has been left for Obama and company.

You might already know that the Transition Team has also recently launched a new feature called Open for Questions. Thousands of people responded, asking more than 10,000 questions and voting nearly a million times on questions from others -- dictating which ones people most want the Transition Team to address. Now that the team has answered some of the most popular queries from the last round, the team is up for Round Two. You can ask whatever you like -- and are encouraged to go back to vote on the questions submitted by others. Answers to this latest round of questions will be posted after the New Year.

The Transition Team is also particularly interested in personal stories and feedback about the healthcare system, and ideas for reform in that area. Now through Dec. 31, healthcare discussions are being held throughout the country to help inform the new administration's plan. If you can't make it to one of these healthcare house parties, you can submit your own comments quite easily through the website.

You really should take a gander at the transition web site if you haven't already. You'll be pleasantly surprised -- perhaps even amazed -- at the open, interactive process that's been constructed. I think all this sunlight -- after eight years in the dark, being force fed fertilizer like a mushroom -- will make for a refreshing, productive change. But, it only works if you take part -- and speak your mind!

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers' Choice '09 awards. Vote for The Zaftig Redhead!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NORAD Tracks Santa!

Prepare to track the fastest object on Earth -- Santa! On Christmas Eve, you and your little ones can track Mr. Claus' progress, and ensure he makes stops where the folks have truly been nice this year. NORAD -- the North American Air Defense System -- has gotten into the spirit of the season and put their considerable resources to not only track Santa, but to ensure his safe passage. This is critically important since Santa must move fast to make it to every house! You can track Santa in 3-D (using Google Earth), and there's a great interactive map of the North Pole so you can check out the various shops and their roles as they prepare for the big day -- truly the inside scoop! And, for those of you doing last minute shopping, you can even track Santa on your cell phone! Phew, what a relief!

Let me also take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and a safe, healthy and happy New Year. Thanks so much for reading my blog this year -- come January, my blog will be a year old -- time flies!

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers' Choice '09 awards. Vote for The Zaftig Redhead!

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Very Blago Christmas

Courtesy of the Springfield (IL) State-Journal Register... a holiday ditty just for you -- but maybe not the whole family.

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers' Choice '09 awards. Vote for The Zaftig Redhead!

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Arby's Commercial -- Do They Really Think it's Sexy, or has the Common Denominator Sunk this Low?

During this past weekend, I've had the misfortune to see the new Arby's commercial several times -- the one for their Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich. The first time I saw it, I have to admit I was a bit dumbfounded. Then the more I saw it, the more the commercial started to annoy me. Now, I'm not a prude. I know that sex sells -- we see it pretty much everywhere, and it's nothing new. And certainly there have been crass commercials before this latest entry from Arby's. I also suppose that in the grand scheme of things, with all the trouble in the world not to mention right around the corner, the content of a commercial is not necessarily hugely important. At the same time, I've seen this commercial enough over the course of a few days that it felt necessary to comment. If the ad is going to get that kinda play, then it's fair game, right?

So anyway, here's the gist: a guy is lying on a bed, surrounded by flickering candles -- clearly a romantic setting -- and waiting expectantly for his girlfriend/wife to come into the room with his birthday surprise. The first time I saw the commercial, I figured she'd come in dressed in slinky lingerie or something else equally predictable. But, it turns out she's dressed in an Arby's employee uniform and carrying a tray of Arby's food -- okay, at this point it's just stupid but not hugely problematic. But if that bit of stupidity weren't enough, the guy is so excited/pleased/happy at the sight of her in the uniform carrying a chicken sandwich, that the Arby's hat appears -- boing! -- above his head. As if the hat graphic isn't phallic enough, the way said hat appears is rather, um, interesting. Obvious, even? Or was it just me? Seriously, Arby's can do better than this -- Superbowl quality this commercial is not. Has the lowest common denominator sunk to this level of ridiculousness?

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers' Choice '09 awards. Vote for The Zaftig Redhead!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's all in the Details, Folks

As a native Ohioan, I've seen my share of snow drifts, blizzards, and winter storm warnings come to frigid fruition. It follows, then, that I have done my fair share of shoveling out, clearing off, and thawing out. My delightful freezebaby of a big sister, whose blood has thinned considerably since leaving the Buckeye state for parts south, sent me this video of a guy dealing with a wintry mix. I must admit, as much as I miss snow sometimes, living south of the Mason-Dixon line, I'm glad I don't have to dig out on a regular basis -- like this poor soul is forced to do.

I'm not going to spoil the video, just know that the old adage remains true now more than ever -- whether you're engaged in a presidential transition or in scraping your car -- it's all in the details. That is, in fact, where the devil feels most at home. Happy holidays, people.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Zaftig Redhead's Considered Opinion on the Selection of Rick Warren to Deliver Inauguration Invocation

A lot is being made in pundit-land about the selection of conservative super church Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's Inauguration. But the move has sparked a furor in the gay community, who overwhelmingly voted for Obama. This is also a community that is pissed off and ready to fight after their Proposition 8 loss -- a measure that Warren endorsed.

Obama's selection of Warren absolutely reflects Obama's lofty intention to govern in a less partisan, less divisive way -- to disagree without being disagreeable. To be inclusive and be every one's president. A conciliatory gesture to evangelicals for taking an ass whuppin' at the polls. Fair enough, if that was the only goal.

But I also think Warren's selection is also very much a purely political calculation. Triangulation, folks, pure and simple. Obama needs to show that he's not beholden to any of the special interests that aided his election. Trust me, right now, Emanuel, Plouffe company are loving the controversy, because it shows the nation that Obama is not simply going to cave to a liberal agenda or special interests groups. It will not be the last time he appears less than sensitive to a key constituency -- in fact, he'll throw folks under the bus if he has to -- the only question is -- which group will be next, and on what issue?

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers' Choice '09 awards. Vote for The Zaftig Redhead!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

With the Naming of Hilda Solis, the Obama Cabinet is Complete -- and in Record Time!

It's not even Christmas, and they're done. Finito. Like clockwork. The Obama presidential transition team has set a record for the speediness in which it named all its designates for cabinet positions, not to mention some agency/commission brass as well. This includes my favorite, Melody Barnes -- the incoming chair of the Domestic Policy Council. She is a Kennedy Senate office alum, and her appointment bodes well for a host of civil rights, women's and labor issues. I'm also kinda jazzed about Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) as Labor Secretary. She has moved up the ranks in the House, and is a former Democratic Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women's Issuues -- again, great for the issues I care most about.

It is important to remind folks that no one will be formally nominated to fill these cabinet slots until President-elect Barack Obama is sworn on January 20th. However, these early nods do serve to give the Senate time to do all the leg work, preparing for confirmation hearings in a timely fashion. This good advance work will likely result in the Obama Cabinet being confirmed at a record pace as well. Given that the new Congress is sworn in Jan. 6th, the Senate will be able to hold confirmation hearings even before Inauguration Day -- and then simply hold the roll call votes until Jan. 20th or later. Expect to have at least one nominee teed up for a vote that first week. It was thought that lucky first might be Attorney General-designate Eric Holder, whose hearings are scheduled to begin Jan. 15th. However, given some bumps in his nomination related to his involvement in Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich, Holder might be, well, held off.

The cabinet includes four former Obama rivals -- Clinton, Richardson, Vilsack, and Biden --- and at least two Republicans. It's more than a little light on women -- only five of the long list below, six if we count Barnes -- I guess women are supposed to be so over the moon about Hillary we weren't supposed to notice the lack. But that's another blog. The list below shows those folks who have accepted the President-elect’s invitation to join his cabinet:

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA), Agriculture
Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Health & Human Services
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY),S tate
Sec. Robert Gates (R), Defense
Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Homeland Security
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Commerce
Timothy Geithner (New York Federal Reserve President), Treasury
Eric Holder (former Clinton DOJ official), Attorney General/Justice
Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, Veterans Affairs
Peter Orszag (former Clinton advisor/CBO director), Office on Management and Budget
Arne Duncan (Chicago schools superintendent), Education
Shaun Donovan (New York City housing commissioner), Housing and Urban Development
Dr. Steven Chu (scientist/scholar/Nobel prize winner), Energy
Lisa Jackson (Chief of Staff for NJ Gov. Jon Corzine, former EPA staff), EPA
Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), Interior
Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), Transportation
Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Labor
Gary Gensler (Clinton treasury subcabinet), Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Mary Schapiro (former regulator), Securities and Exchange Commission
Ron Kirk (former Dallas mayor), U.S. Trade Representative
Susan Rice, United Nations Ambassador

Go Team!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Sock and Awe: Need to Release Some Pent-up Aggression as the Bush Administration Limps to a Finish?

President George W. Bush likes to say that his administration is "sprinting to the finish." Well, I suppose if you count the continued trampling of our civil rights -- right up until Jan. 20th -- a form of sprinting, than he'd be right. Bush and his cronies are wasting no time in pushing through horrible new regulations -- as a lovely parting gift to the nation, including the President-elect who will have to clean up this mess.

From a horrible narrowing of the Family and Medical Leave rules, to the disastrous expansion of so-called "conscious exemptions" related to workers providing reproductive healthcare (simple stuff like birth control and referrals, not just abortion), to new permissible -- and scarily intrusive -- techniques for collecting information on Americans even where there is no evidence of wrongdoing, to new environmental regs that create significant exceptions to rules requiring scientific review of any federal project that might harm endangered species or impact climate change. These rushed through regulations are a case of so little time, so much damage. Actually, here's a great chart of all the midnight regs coming down the pike.

So, if you're feeling a little additional antipathy towards W. and company in light of about 100 new regulatory missles aimed our way in these last weeks, I have a great suggestion for you to work out that aggression. Inspired by the now infamous Iraqi shoe hurler, some creative folks have created the Internet game, Sock and Awe. It's kinda like whack-a-mole, only you get to launch shoes at the president himself. At the time of this blogging, 33673756 shoes have successfully found the mark -- and presumably left one. The site also lists the top 25 "Bush Shoeing Countries;" not surprisingly, the United States tops the list, with France a close second. But you might be interested in the other 23 countries making up the list. Even the peace-loving Swiss are getting into the act.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Ranking Method for Nation's Law Schools: How Many Corrupt Officials are Counted Among their Alums

In this era of Stevens, Blagojevich, Spitzer, Fossella, Ney, and so on, it was refreshing when I came across this wholly new spin on law school rankings. As we've seen in the Obama camp, there defninitely seems to be a strong preference for Ivy League backgrounds. But according to the new Moss Law School Rankings, posted over at Concurring Opinions, the Ivys' have some other claims to fame -- or should I say infamy? Anyway, before I explain, here's the unorthodox ranking developed by Scott Moss:

#1: Harvard (7 points)
#2: Yale (4 points)
#3: Tulane (3 points)
#4: NYU (2 points)
#5: Georgetown (2 points)
#5: Cincinnati (2 points)
#5: Rutgers (2 points)
#5: Pepperdine (2 points)
#5: Louisiana State (2 points)
#10: Fordham (1 point)
#10: Washington & Lee (1 point)

And how did he arrive at this ranking, you ask? Well, here's the skinny:

Law schools accrue points by having alumni who were high public officials convicted, or simply forced to leave office, following criminal or otherwise serious unlawful misconduct they allegedly committed while in office in the 1990s or 2000s. [Footnote: I carefully say “alleged” so nobody on this list should sue Dan Solove, Concurring Opinions LLC, or (especially) me.] A law school gets four points for a President, two points for a Governor or Senator, and one point for a member of Congress or non-Gubernatorial high statewide official. Here is the list I compiled:

• Harvard: Gov. Elliot Spitzer (NY) (prostitution; possibly abuse of state police resources); Rep. William Jefferson (LA) (bribes); Sen. Ted Stevens (AK) (bribes); Sen. Brock Adams (WA) (sexual harassment)
• Tulane: Sen. David Vitter (LA) (prostitution); Rep. Robert Livingston (LA) (prostitution)
• Yale: Pres. Bill Clinton (perjury, and a number of other things that may or may not have been illegal)
• NYU: Sen. Bob Packwood (OR) (sexual harassment)
• Georgetown: Gov. Don Siegelman (AL) (bribery)
• Washington & Lee: Chief Judge Sol Wachtler (NY) (criminal threats related to extramarital affair)
• Fordham: Rep. Vito Fossella (NY) (DWI while visiting child from extramarital affair )
• U.Cincinnati: Gov. Robert Taft (OH) (illegal campaign contributions)
• Rutgers: Sen. Bob Toricelli (NJ) (illegal campaign contributions)
• Pepperdine: Gov. Rod Blagojevich (IL) (bribes; misuse of government funds to try to punish political opponents; etc.)
• Louisiana State: Gov. Edwin Edwards (bribes)

Kudos for such strong showings not only to Harvard but also to the Louisiana schools (alleged crimes by three notable public officials who attended law schools in the state), which reminds me that I’m surprised no New Jersey schools ranked higher. Condolences to Stanford, Columbia, and U.Chicago for lacking any presence on this list; I’m sure there are many other fine ranking systems that reflect some other strengths of your schools.

This is just a comparative ranking among law schools, not evidence that law schools produce public corruption. Here is a short list of non-lawyers who otherwise would qualify: Gov. John Rowland (CT); Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham; Rep. Rick Renzi; Rep. Dan Rostenkowski; Rep. Mark Foley; Rep. James Traficant; Sen. Larry Craig; Gov. Fife Symington (AZ).
Gives you a whole new perspective on what it means to be #1, doesn't it?? Brilliant!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Battle Royale from Our Friends at OpenCongress: The Must Have Accessory this Holiday Season

There are some great sites on the Internet to help you track the political issues of your choice, as well as the hottest issues du jour. One of the best things about the web is that it allows people quicker, faster access to information than ever before -- so you, too, can help change the world, one person at a time. Many of the best sites serve a critical watchdog function by educating and informing the populous. Only a truly informed electorate can make good decisions and solid choices -- but the information needs to come from respected sources, too. One of the best, most trusted sources for that information comes from our friends at OpenCongress.gov. And, just in time for the season of giving -- but mostly just in time for the new Congress teeing up on January 6th -- they've introduced Battle Royale. Read their missive below -- a holiday gift for us all.

Dec. 11, 2008

Hi everyone,

We just launched a really fun new tool on OpenCongress called "Battle Royale" -- take a look ::


Like a Billboard Chart for legislation or a Digg for Congress, Battle Royale lets you see what bills people are loving or hating.

Battle Royale builds on all the votes and comments that OpenCongress users generate every day. For the first time ever, we’re creating a dynamic data set of public opinion on Congress. You can easily see:

- The most- and least-popular bills in Congress, with more than two thousand bills in the mix

- The highest- and lowest-rated senators and representatives, including your own elected officials

- The most tracked and commented-on bills, issues, and Members of Congress

… for more info, visit today’s announcement on our blog: http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/782

… and if you have a Digg account, give a quick digg and help spread the word:

This new tool is a key part of our work to harness the social wisdom created on OpenCongress and make it accessible & useful across the web. Dive in to vote up or down on bills and lawmakers you care about, see what’s hot with our open user community, and let us know what you think!


-David & the OC Team


Latest Stocking Stuffer: Bush Gets the Boot, Literally

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog!" shouted the protester, interrupting a press conference to hurl his shoes at President George W. Bush. Unbelievably, this craziness happened in Iraq -- surprising since I have a lot of friends who've waited a long time to see W. get the boot on American soil. While the Prime Minister heroically went for the block, Bush agilely ducked both shoes as they whizzed past his head and thudded against the wall behind him. He's not the most physically fit president we've ever had for nothing! "It was a size 10," Bush said later.

The Cy Young wannabe was later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo. Fascinating -- the hurler was a member of the media. Do you suppose Bush will give Al-Zeidi a nickname -- "Shoeless Muntadar" perhaps? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Of course, I'm not exactly sure what kind of reception W. was expecting during this farewell lap. It's what, 37 days before he passes the baton -- together with the un-freaking-believable mess he has created in just about every sector of society and the economy -- to President-elect Barack Obama. I'm guessing, however, that even Google maps couldn't help him find his way to a "Mission Accomplished" banner before he bows out for good.

12/18/08 Update: "Shoeless Muntadar," after becoming a folk hero for throwing his size ten's at George W. Bush, has asked the Iraqi government for a pardon. Further, an Egyptian man has offered the hand of his 20-year-old daughter to the journalist, and apparently the woman agreed -- because it would be an honor to marry such a man.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Barney Frank: The Smartest Man in Congress

Barney Frank (D-MA) has long been one of my favorite members of Congress. He's a character, no doubt. Yeah, yeah, he's gay, and there was that whole bit of scandal more than a decade ago -- who gives a crap? Actually, he is an eloquent and sincere advocate for gay rights, and has done much to change a lot of otherwise rigid minds. Most importantly, he's quick-witted, he's anti-social and impatient -- he doesn't suffer fools even a little bit -- and he's smart as hell. In fact, he is often called "The Smartest Man in Congress," and it's a moniker that fits.

Back in 1995, after Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution," it was Frank that the shell-shocked Democratic Leadership, now in the minority for the first time in 40 years, sent to the floor to bedevil the new Republican Leadership -- and bedevil he did. Frank knows legislative procedure, is fast on his feet when it comes to House debates, and made Newt and Company's life pure hell as they settled into figuring out how to lead. Frank challenged and disagreed at every opportunity, turning the House floor into a chaotic jumble those first few months until newly-minted Speaker Gingrich got his leadership sea legs. It was a beautiful thing -- to watch Frank literally make his Republican colleagues sputter in impotent frustration at his antics -- something the other side of the aisle still does to this day, although there is muted respect for his leadership and keen intellect as well.

This Sunday, 60 Minutes did a great piece on Frank and his enormous role in getting us through out current quagmires -- as House Financial Services Committee Chairman, Barney Frank oversees Wall Street and housing issues. He also has a hand in the auto bailout discussion. Yeah, he's been a bit busy in the last several months -- and as far as I'm concerned, I'm just glad we've got Frank at the helm. He's unabashedly liberal, but he's got a pragmatic bent that gets things done -- my kinda guy. Take a listen to the interview, and you'll get just a flavor of why Rep. Barney Frank is one of my favorite members of Congress.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hall and Oates -- With a Little Help from Jon Stewart -- Pay Tribute to Alan Colmes

You know, Fixed News -- um, I mean -- Fox News at least played at fairness with the presence of Alan Colmes on the network. Yes, that would be the same Colmes of Hannity and Colmes fame -- or should I say infamy. It's okay -- you can be easily forgiven if you don't know who the hell Colmes is -- that was, of course, the point. Hannity is the blowhard, right-wing reactionary to Colmes' mealy-mouthed, liberal wuss. What a show!

Mr. Colmes has recently announced his exit from the show -- to fall back into obscurity, no doubt. He took a lot of abuse on the show -- but he got well paid to be the token liberal. With Colmes' departure, Fox News isn't even playing at being unbiased -- Hannity is getting his own (ugly) show. In honor of the "dynamic duo's" split, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had Hall and Oates sing an ode to the departing "newsman." Enjoy.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 5, 2008

You Decide: What's Your Choice for First Pooch?

I love dogs. I grew up with dogs as beloved family pets. I want to get a dog. My siblings have dogs that rule their lives, dogs they love even when they drive them crazy. Dogs that are part of the family. I'm with the Obama girls -- I've worked hard, and I want a puppy. I even have The Daily Puppy featured on my blog. Unfortunately, a friend of mine recently told me that, on behalf of dog lovers everywhere, he was forbidding me to get a dog. Why, you might ask? Apparently because of my crazy-ass schedule and heavy work travel. He said, "you get home at 9pm and eat oatmeal for dinner. You're lucky to have kept yourself alive. You couldn't keep an electronic pet alive." He went on to say that I should get a CAT. Now, cats have their place. I've had cats. But I've reached a time in my life where I want affection and unconditional love. Cats provide disdain and suffer us on condition -- the condition that we have thumbs and thus can turn on the water and make the can opener work. My last cat, Thomas (RIP), would have kicked my ass out if he could have paid the mortgage on his own. So, no more cats for me. But, alas, my upstart, co-called friend just might be right -- perhaps my life isn't really situated for a dog right now. But a redheaded girl can dream, can't she? Just like Sasha and Malia -- though I guess I'll need to live vicariously through the Obama girls and that lucky First-Dog-to-be. For now.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Proposition 8: The Musical

Fresh from our friends at Funny or Die, it's Proposition 8: The Musical! This pointed satire is, of course, in direct response to the travesty of California's now infamous ballot initiative known as Prop 8. When it passed a month ago, the measure changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman AND eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry. That's right, it eliminated a right that already existed in the state for only one group of people, writing discrimination into the state Constitution. Since the narrow but affirmative vote, there have been protests and marches and candlelight vigils, as well as a poll that now says Californians -- knowing what they know now given all the press coverage -- would vote down Prop 8 if given another chance. Here's hoping they get one.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gov. Rendell: Beware the Open Mic When Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth

It is truth universally acknowledged that an open microphone in a direct feed to a 24-hour news outlet must be in want of a clueless politician. In this case, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D), also chair of the National Governors' Association, was the clueless pol.

While chatting near the podium Tuesday at the NGA's meeting in Philadelphia, Rendell made free with his opinions about Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) -- President-elect Barack Obama's nominee for Homeland Security Secretary. Said Rendell, most conveniently into the open mic:

"Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it."
Now, I am particularly suspicious that Rendell was pontificating about this specific position -- a post for which he himself had been rumored a candidate. Is he trying to excuse why HE didn't get the job?? Because he has family and so thus is not a good candidate? Um, not so much.

Rendell apologized for his foot-in-mouth disease today, saying: "What I meant is that Janet is a person who works 24/7, just like me." Pardon my French, but that's horseshit. Rendell did not misspeak initially; he said exactly what he meant, and he meant what he said -- that women without kids are the only kind of women able to take on the big time jobs. Or, by definition, that women with kids can't do such critical work because of family obligations. Of course, such obligations or lack thereof don't seem to recommend or disqualify men -- but for women, the mommy track is alive and well. It just goes to show that as far as women in the workplace go -- well, we've not come as far as we thought, baby.

CNN's Campbell Brown used her platform on her show No Bias, No Bull to present a marvelous commentary, politely but clearly given Rendell all kinds of hell. Way to go, girlfriend, and what an excellent example of why having women in high places does make a difference -- if only to call the boys on their crap. Watch the video, below.

BTW, if you know the famous book from which this blog's leading sentence is derived/paraphrased, you get brownie points!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This Just in for Thanksgiving: Ammunition for Political Holiday Family Feuding and Palin's Turkey Slaughter Disaster

Wanna be able to shamelessly wallow in the Democrats' victory this holiday season? Are you just dying to give as good as you get from your right-wing relatives? Well, look no further for help in your dinner table jousting than this great article from Slate. Use it in good health.

Also, here's a creative remix of the unbelievable interview Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) did at an Alaskan turkey farm this week. There to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving, she then thoughtfully stopped to do an interview in front of the slaughterhouse -- with turkeys being, um, processed in the background. Wow... just, wow. Thanks to Slate for the gory mad-libbed details in the video.

And here's Letterman's Top Ten List of Palin's excuses for what is, I believe, one of the more amazing demonstrations of piss poor advance work and sad political instincts I've had the misfortune to witness -- not to mention just downright gross.

Just another reason why I don't eat Thanksgiving turkey, folks. It's simply much too literal for me -- it's clearly a big dead bird. Yuck. I prefer my carnivorous food to arrive under plastic wrap and well-disguised, thank you -- and not staring back at me accusingly, either. Yes, I'm a hypocritical vegetarian, and proud of it.

Who wants a drumstick???

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

An Early Holiday Gift: "The Mouth that Roared" (and Lies Remorselessly) is... Wired Shut!

In an absolutely delicious bit of karmic justice, it seems that Ann Coulter -- that right-wing talking points spouter, prolific regurgitator/author of absurd new books seemingly every other day, anti-progressive, anti-feminist (or is she just the anti-Christ?) -- has had her jaw wired shut. No, really -- wired shut.

Just in time for the holidays, boys and girls, we have all been gifted with a forced moment of silence from Ann Coulter -- something I didn't think was humanly possible. Better yet, the peaceful bliss could last as long at 5 whole weeks.

The word on the street is that Coulter fell down the stairs -- or was pushed? Okay, okay, that was not funny. Well, maybe a little... but truly, it's not like The Zaftig Redhead to wish bodily injury on anyone (well, except the assholes who cut me off on the beltway). But in this instance, I simply must basque in the irony... the cosmic realignment that has given us all a much needed reprieve. I can do that and still wish her a speedy recovery, right?

It also has gotten me thinking -- always dangerous -- that if Coulter can manage to get her jaw wired shut, rendering her blessedly mute throughout the holidays, what might the benevolent universe bestow upon Sen. Joe Lieberman (turncoat-CT) to balance the scales of justice in that direction? The mind boggles... and mine, at least, also cackles with glee.

On the downside, I do worry a bit about what dipshit theories and outright lies Coulter might plot, write, conjure, etc. while in her mandatory bubble of silence. All that pent up verbiage could kill someone once the wires are removed and she's free to spew again; police would do well to clear the area, and protect us all from her blind vitriol in the new year.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Go North 'til You Smell It, West 'til You Step in It: OHIO STATE vs. michigan

On Saturday, November 22, the most storied rivalry in all of college football will once again play itself out. That's right folks, it's time for the OHIO STATE vs. michigan game. GO BUCKS! My brother, also a huge OHIO STATE fan, is probably at this very moment chalking Block O's on his neighbor's driveways -- uh, did I mention he lives in michigan? In the morning, he'll blast the OHIO STATE fight song for the entire cul de sac's enjoyment. What a guy!

Yep, my brother has great fun giving his friends, neighbors, and co-workers all kinda shit, especially since OHIO STATE has dominated the little blue team so thoroughly -- and so enjoyably -- in the Tressel era. Tomorrow, the BUCKEYES face a michigan team that lost to the feared Toledo Rockets and just about everyone else this season. I suppose that does mean this much-hyped game could be ripe for an upset, but I have confidence in the BUCKS!

This well-known rivalry started in 1897. Since 1935, the contest has decided the Big Ten Conference championship -- going to one team or the other -- on 23 different occasions. In honor of this intense Great Lake feud, ESPN put together a couple of amusing commercials promoting college sports rivalries that were an immediate hit with viewers -- take a look.

Also, take a listen to the Zaftig Redhead's favorite song on OHIO STATE/michigan day (it's a longer video from a last year's game, but this particular version of this great song is the best I've heard). If you listen all the way through, you'll also get to hear Hang on Sloopy and the Fight Song, too -- courtesy of the Ohio State University Marching Band. Oh Joy!

So, yeah... you know where I'll be Saturday -- with the Scarlet and Grey Faithful, watching our boys kick the crap outta those puppies from up North. GO BUCKS!

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Letterman Clears the Air with Couric about McCain No-Show

Katie Couric visited The Late Show with David Letterman a few nights ago. The interview was all about Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), but apparently Sen. John McCain's now infamous dissing of Dave in favor of the CBS Evening News never came up. In this hilarious clip, Dave rectifies that unacceptable state of affairs by giving Katie a buzz to clear the air. Couric has a great sense of humor -- give it a listen.

After a rough start as television's first solo female anchor, Katie Couric's star is on the rise again as a result of her election coverage. If you're interested in Couric's earlier appearance on Letterman, take a look.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Redhead Rant: Dems Wuss Out, Lieberman Bailout Passes 42-13

Paybacks are ... negotiable? All's well that ends... without retribution? Sen. Joe Lieberman (turncoat-CT) apparently kissed and kinda-sorta made up with the Senate Democrats today. The wishy-washy caucus voted 42-13 on a resolution condemning statements made by Connecticut's infamous pain in the ass during the campaign. I'm sure that very firm slap on the wrist struck fear in the heart of any straying caucus member. But wait, that same resolution allowed good ol' Joe to keep his precious Homeland Security Committee gavel, though he will lose an Environment and Public Works subcommittee chairmanship. The Zaftig Redhead's reaction to these developments? Well, pardon my French, but whoopie-fuckin'-do.

As many of you know, I have been loudly, vociferously whining about Joe for a while -- with good reason. So let's just recap Joe's transgressions, shall we? He conducted no serious oversight of the Bush Administration despite his bully pulpit as chairman of the committee specifically charged with oversight -- kiss those checks and balances goodbye! In December, as we all know, Joe turned his back on Democrats (again) when he endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Never mind that Joe caucuses with the Democrats or that it's our majority which provides him with the committee chairmanship that he loves so much. It seems sadly appropriate that good ol' Joe gave the Dems the cold shoulder from the frozen tundra of New Hampshire -- where McCain credited Joe's endorsement for putting the wheels back on the straight talk express. Way to go, Joe!

Oh, and don't forget that good ol' Joe lent his weighty support to McCain instead of home state primary candidate Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), as is traditional. Remember, Joe, when Dodd was the only senator who endorsed your also-ran candidacy back in 2004, when you had your own delusions of grandeur about calling the Oval Office home? Now, I know Dodd endorsed Ned LaMont after he beat you in the Democratic primary -- as did the rest of the Democratic Party. You lost the party's nomination fair and square and for good reason, Joe -- them's the breaks. Dodd was just playing by the rules, but you cried sour grapes like a third-grader. By the way, I still can't believe -- after all this -- that it was Dodd (again) that came to your aid to keep you in the caucus despite all your crazy-making. Dodd's either just a really, really, really nice guy or you've got the goods on him -- I'm not sure which.

I'm pissed, Joe, that you kept calling yourself a Democrat during your speech at the Republican National Convention. You are not a Democrat. In fact, you are listed as an "Independent Democrat" on Senate rolls -- whatever the hell that is -- at your own behest. Listen, Joe, you don't get to use our party label just when it's politically expedient. You certainly don't get to use the label in the same breath as you endorse the other party's candidate, in a speech that's the rhetorical equivalent of a stab in the back to the Blue Nation that once nominated you for vice president.

While Reid and Company did not get a clue and boot your double-agent ass out of the Democratic caucus, I sincerely hope that what goes around really does come back 'round again -- and slaps you upside the head. But the sad fact is, for now, we need your sorry ass to get to 60 in the new Congress, just like we needed you to keep the Dems in power in the 110th Congress. You must have a great numerologist, Joe, cuz it's the numbers that keep saving you from getting what you deserve.

So you snaked the Democrats again, Joe. And the Senate Democrats -- well, they deserve what they'll get, keeping a snake such as yourself in their midst and in a position of power. Bunch of wusses. Obama too -- though Obama now owns you, Joe -- you owe him big because it's thanks to his intervention that you're still alive in the caucus. But, given your turncoat ways, I doubt you'll honor your debt to the President-Elect.

Still, the ramifications are clear: if we can't discipline our own, if we can't hold you accountable, Joe, how the hell are we supposed to herd the rest of the cats and actually get some meaningful work done? Senate Democrats now have absolutely no leverage to stiff arm their colleagues and keep 'em on the reservation. And god knows Harry Reid doesn't need any further handicap cuz he was no great shakes prior to the Lieberman defection. Once again, the Democrats talk a good game, but don't put their money where their mouth is.

My only consolation is that what goes around comes around, karma sucks, etc. -- meaning someday, somewhere, Joe, this nasty bit of business will catch up with you. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy -- and I hope I'm there to see it.

Warning: Watch this video only if you wanna throw up a little bit in your mouth.

NOTE: Major props to the two senators who spoke out in favor of removing Joe: Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and thanks to the 11 courageous senators who joined them in doing the right thing.

Read here to find out what happened to Lieberman's McCain 2008 bumper sticker?

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obamas on 60 Minutes: First Post-election Interview

Here it is, folks. President-Elect Barack Obama's first post-election interview, with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes. How very presidential to have his first interview as President-Elect be with the venerable news magazine. This is not a clip -- it is the whole enchilada. Our next president is calm and confident, and Michelle Obama joins in for part of the conversation. Enjoy!

Obama and the Presidency

Watch CBS Videos Online

The Personal Transition

Watch CBS Videos Online

Puppies, Mothers-in-Law, and College Football Playoffs!

Watch CBS Videos Online

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why Doesn't the Printer Work? For Cat Owners, the Truth is Revealed

A friend sent along this little ditty, and I simply had to share the love. Bear with me as I set up the context for this video. It goes something like this: I have long held that my home technologies -- and the work ones, for that matter -- are often attacked by trouble-making gremlins. Computers, voicemail, printers, DVD players -- devices working fine one day that can suddenly, inexplicably be kaput the next -- out of sync, giving error messages, eating tape, erasing files. I also believe that certain people have a benevolent magnetic field of sorts, and that their mere presence can magically make any such problem go away (and make me look like an ass for complaining about it in the process). The computer tech guy at work is one such magnetic personality --- if I'm convinced my computer has gone haywire, he has only to walk into my office for all to be well in my technologic world.

However, as a cat lover, the particular explanation for "gremlins" supplied by this hilarious video also rings particularly true. Perhaps you can relate?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Youth Vote Overwhelming in Obama's Victory -- and Coatails to the Democrats

Youth voters (ages 18-29) didn't just rock the vote, they moved mountains this election year. And, as absentee and early voting ballots continue to get counted, the turnout totals continue to rise. CIRCLE now estimates that:

-- 23 million young voters went to the polls on November 4th -- an increase of 3.4 million over 2004.

-- Youth turnout will likely top off somewhere around 52-53 percent. That rivals the 1992 turnout, and will likely fall just short of the all time record of 55.4percent set in 1972.

-- Young voters accounted for 60 percent of the overall voter turnout increase.

-- CIRCLE still estimates that young voters made up 18 percent of the total electorate. This contrasts with the typical voting heavyweight -- seniors ages 65+ -- who comprised 16 percent of last week's voting public.

Take a look at this great electoral vote map, which pictorially shows how the country's youth tilted. Note that it would have been an even more lopsided Obama win if youth voters had anything to say about it. In fact, Obama's staggering 66-32 percent margin among youth voters likely did decide the election. Well, that and the 7-point gender gap in Obama's favor. Women, young people, and the overwhelming minority voter turnout made the difference.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alice Walker: An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

This letter was circulated to me via email, but I traced its origins back to The Root. This site "is a daily online magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary on today's news from a variety of black perspectives...[that] aims to be an unprecedented departure from traditional American journalism, raising the profile of black voices in mainstream media and engaging anyone interested in black culture around the world." A truly wonderful site to explore.

Walker's letter is a heartfelt letter from the legendary Alice Walker, and has some simple words of wisdom we'd all do well to heed in our own lives. Read on.

Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,
Alice Walker

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Savor the Victory Tonight, For Tomorrow the Real Work Begins

The people have spoken. Definitively. What follows is an excerpt from President-Elect Barack Obama's victory speech.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can. At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can. When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Best Political Ad I've Seen All Season -- And That's Saying Something

Congratulations to Progressive Future for an evocative spot that tugs at your heartstrings, managing to make you sad, angry and hopeful all at once. The music is a masterful choice, but the images seal the deal. The pictures remind us of the commonality of our experiences and that we're all in this together -- and that better days are ahead for all of us, and for this nation founded on the grandest of democratic principles.

Please VOTE.

Time for a Tea Party on the Potomac: On Election Day, DC Demands the Vote

Tomorrow's the big day. The Election Day we've all been waiting for, the one that couldn't come soon enough -- if only to cease the endless commercials, robocalls, and shredding of trees for campaign fodder. Those of you lucky enough to live outside the boundaries of the District of Columbia will also be electing House and Senate candidates in addition to a president. Lucky you. I'm soooo jealous.

As a resident of our nation's capital, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind the rest of the country that while DC votes will help to send the next guy to the White House, the same folks who go to the ballot box in the District today have no voting representation in Congress.

Really. It's true. Taxation without representation is alive and well and being inflicted upon the denizens of Washington, DC. Imagine my surprise, moving here as I did to work on Capitol Hill, to find that my newly-minted DC driver's license also instantly disenfranchised me. Yeah, yeah -- we have a non-voting Delegate, but Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) is only allowed to vote in committee and then only if she doesn't cast the tie-breaking vote. In other words, she only gets to vote when it can't make a difference. She has no vote on the House floor whatsoever -- she's not allowed to vote on amendments or legislation, even final passage.

Meanwhile, DC residents -- many of whom are also, ironically, involved in politics like myself -- have no senators whatsoever. Well, we have a "shadow" senator who has even less clout than our non-voting delegate -- at least Norton gets a salary and has a staff. The District of Columbia, in other words, has the same congressional status as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. But, um, those folks DON'T PAY TAXES to the United States Government. DC residents do.

How can this be, you ask? Well, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a recent decision, said it's because DC is not a state. The justices were sympathetic to our plight, I'll give 'em that -- but the U.S. Constitution says only states get Congressional representation. So, the only alternative is for DC to become a state, or to amend the Constitution to allow DC representation without statehood.

There has also been this fairly silly compromise that was voted on in the House and the Senate this Congress that would give DC voting rights in the House in exchange for Utah also getting an additional seat. Why? Well, the Republicans would only go for the radical idea of DC voting rights if the additional vote -- most assuredly a Democratic vote -- would be a wash. Utah has been whining since the last census -- they felt they got the shaft, with all the Mormons off on missions -- and that they actually should have gotten another congressional seat back in 2002. Of course, this compromise comes with all kinds of Constitutional questions, a limited shelf life given the decennial census is just around the corner (making this compromise moot), and of course does nothing whatsoever for the District's Senate representation.

That particular conundrum is further complicated by both politics and procedure, since the Republicans do not want the Democrats to gain two Democratic senators from the District, and Senate rules allow filibusters and holds that would make any kind of vote on this issue -- voting rights, a constitutional amendment, whatever -- a very, very high hurdle indeed. The fact that my voting rights, however, are subverted for such narrow partisan interests is the very definition of hypocrisy.

The worst part about all this is that, despite the lack of representation, Congress still feels free to impose its will on Washington, DC in the worst ways possible. They like to use us as an incubator for their crazy ideas -- the Republicans are particularly good at that. Can't get school vouchers that siphon off public monies to private schools, that bypass civil rights, passed nationwide? Nope -- but go ahead, impose them on the District, whose people don't want them. Mad that those same people voted in a gun ban, which has made the streets safer and kept the nation's capital from being the murder capital of the country as well? Sue the city, and take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court (who overturned the ban) because you don't think district residents have the right to govern themselves -- never mind that the gun ban has been in place for decades. Oh yeah, and forbid DC from doing any kind of needle exchange program, too, despite the fact that 1 in 20 residents is infected with HIV. There are lots and lots of examples where congressional conservatives try -- and sometimes successfully -- impose their narrow will on a population that doesn't even have a vote in their chambers. How friggin' insulting is that?

Remember what happened the last time Americans got fed up with that kinda treatment from the powers that be? With taxation without representation? Patriots dumped a bunch of tea into Boston Harbor and the rest is history. My friends, after almost 12 years in DC with very little progress made on DC voting rights, not to mention being treated like a guinea pig by Congress whenever they can't manage to impose their will nationwide, I'm about to throw some Lipton in the Potomac River and see if I can't foment a little rebellion myself. It's past time for real DC voting rights.

Here's a fun video about DC voting rights... get past the bit in the beginning, and it's actually a good song and video.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Pundits Make Their Election Day Calls: How Does Your Crystal Ball Compare?

Less than 48 hours from the election of our lives, here is what some of the best known minds in the business are predicting. What does your crystal ball say? Better yet, what does your gut say? And, if you're that confident, enter the Washington Post's Pick Your President Contest. Remember, a presidential candidate needs 270 votes to carry the Electoral College.

Fred Barnes, executive editor
The Weekly Standard
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 50%/252 vs. McCain 50%/286
Senate: 55 Democrats vs. 43 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 255 Democrats vs. 180 Republicans

Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and former presidential adviser
CNN political analyst
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 325 vs. McCain 186
Senate: 58 Democrats

Donna Brazile, Democratic strategist
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 343 vs. McCain 195
Senate: 59 Democrats vs. 39 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 264 Democrats vs. 171 Republicans

James Carville, former presidential adviser
Democratic media consultant
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 365 vs. McCain 173
Senate: 60 Democrats
(Sources: washingtonpost.com, CNN)

Chris Cillizza
Washington Post politics reporter
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 52%/312 vs. McCain 48%/226
Senate: 57 Democrats vs. 41 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 266 Democrats vs. 169 Republicans

Eleanor Clift, McLaughlin Group contributor
Newsweek contributing editor
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 52.1%/349 vs. McCain 46.5%/189
Senate: 58 Democrats vs. 40 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 265 Democrats vs. 170 Republicans

David Gergen, former presidential adviser
CNN political analyst
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 338 vs. McCain 200
Senate: 59 Democrats

Mark Halperin, TIME Magazine
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 349 vs. McCain 189
Senate: 58 Democrats vs. 40 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 263 Democrats vs. 172 Republicans

Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief
Huffington Post
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 51.1%/318 vs. McCain 45.6%/220
Senate: 58 Democrats vs. 40 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 254 Democrats vs. 181 Republicans

Morton Kondracke, executive editor
Roll Call
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 54%/379 vs. McCain 45%/159
Senate: 57 Democrats vs. 41 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 269 Democrats vs. 166 Republicans

Bill Maher, host and comedian
HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher"
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 52.5%/375 vs. McCain 46%/163
Senate: 57 Democrats vs. 41 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 259 Democrats vs. 176 Republicans

Chris Matthews, Host
MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews"
Presidential (Popular/Electoral): Obama 52%/338 vs. McCain 46%/200
Senate: 56 Democrats vs. 42 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 264 Democrats vs. 171 Republicans

Markos Moulitsas, DailyKos founder
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 54%/390 vs. McCain 45%/148
Senate: 58 Democrats vs. 40 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 268 Democrats vs. 167 Republicans

Ed Rollins, GOP strategist
Campaign chair for Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR)
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 52%/353 vs. McCain 45%/185
Senate: 57 Democrats vs. 41 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 249 Democrats vs. 186 Republicans

George Stephanopoulos, host and former presidential aide
ABC News "This Week"
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 353 vs. McCain 185
Senate: 58 Democrats vs. 40 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 263 Democrats vs. 172 Republicans

George Will, Conservative columnist
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 378 vs. McCain 160
Senate: 57 Democrats vs. 41 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 256 Democrats vs. 179 Republicans

Juan Williams, NPR news analyst
Presidential Race (Popular/Electoral): Obama 51%/326 vs. McCain 47%/212
Senate: 58 Democrats vs. 40 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 258 Democrats vs. 177 Republicans

The Zaftig Redhead
Blogger Extraordinaire
Presidential Race (Electoral): Obama 321 vs. McCain 217
Senate: 56 Democrats vs. 42 Republicans vs. 2 Others
House: 259 Democrats vs. 176 Republicans

While the overwhelming majority of the pundits are seeing good things for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and his Democrats, don't count your chickens based on these foxes -- they've been known to be wrong, a lot. But if you really want more, you can find more pundit predictions here.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Cindy McCain has a Cameo in Latest SNL Winner: McCain's an Awfully Good Sport, too

Folks have been asking for the clips of Saturday Night Live's latest entry into one of their best seasons ever. So, yes, by popular demand -- only a few days out from the election -- here is the Nov. 1 edition of SNL, with special guest Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Take a look at at this great segment featuring McCain/Palin on QVC -- with a well-conceived cameo by Cindy McCain and the amazing Tina Fey. Truly, I have my problems with the Maverick, but he and the wife were great sports on the show. Wish he coulda been a better sport during the campaign. Then again, if he had been, McCain might be doing better -- so scratch that.

Also, on Weekend Update, Sen. McCain unveiled some new strategies he's considering for the last few days of his campaign. Some real gems in here, especially "The Sad Grandpa" ploy.

We need to be able to find the humor in this crazy, roller coaster of an election we're all been party to. But keep working folks, right through Nov. 4th -- it's tightening up, and we can't take anything for granted.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Barack O'Lanterns: Yes We Carve!

With Halloween just days before Election Day, pumpkin fever has struck the Obama Faithful -- momentarily creating orange states out of red, blue and purple. In fact, Yes We Carve is holding a contest for the best Obamakin -- win an iPod! Also, there are photos galore of the lengths Obama supporters are going to via squashes around the nation. If you are feeling the need to join the fun, stencils you can believe in have been provided so you, too, can Change Your Pumpkin and Change the World, Be the Change We Seed, um, well, you get it. Remember, Every Pumpkin Counts!

Copyright 2008 (text only. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

VOTE, Dammit. Voting Early is Even Better.

From all reports, early voting is off the charts this election season. Florida's Republican governor declared an emergency, ordering polling places to stay open later to contend with the hours-long wait at some voting places. Finally, this year, Americans will turn out in record numbers -- in numbers we've never seen before. This is wonderful, amazing, thrilling.

But the sad fact is that many polling places may not be ready for the onslaught -- especially in critical swing states. As a result, anyone who can vote prior to Nov. 4 -- either by registering for absentee ballots or by early voting -- I strongly recommend that you do so. Declare Yourself has a great interactive map about early voting -- find out the rules in your state. You could be living in one of the 31 states allowing folks to beat the rush this week. But, remember that early voting and absentee voting are different things:

No-Excuse Early Voting: Thirty-one states allow voters to cast their ballots early even if they are able to make it to the polls on Election Day. Some elections offices use touch-screen voting machines and others allow voters to submit an in-person absentee ballot (see below).

In-Person Absentee: A form of early voting in which voters go to their county elections office, apply for an absentee ballot, fill it out, and submit it to their election official in person.

Excuse Required: If you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day, four U.S. states and the District of Columbia require a valid excuse to vote early and absentee in-person. Requirements vary by state, but can include military service, college attendance, and sickness.
Celebrities have been out in full force this election season -- and the latest Declare Yourself video is chock full of 'em urging all of us to vote. And I'm telling you -- don't take this one for granted. It ain't over yet, no fat lady has sung -- and it might just be the early voting that gives our man Barack the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The time is now, my friends. Don't miss your chance to be part of history -- and make a change for the better.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fabulous Obama Campaign Ad Focusing on Real Women, Real Issues

This Obama for President ad first aired during Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) much anticipated appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend. In the ad, real women talk about their distrust of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), touching on some of the most critical issues that women voters are keying in on this year -- pay equity, health care, retirement security, etc.

The ad also features Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) support for women's reproductive rights. This is particularly notable since the choice issue has more often sent Democrats running for cover -- but in an election year that is breaking all the rules, reproductive rights are back in vogue again and helping pro-choice candidates nationwide. Perhaps people are thinking about the Supreme Court -- about time.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 24, 2008

SNL: Bush 43's Primetime Endorsement of Palin-McCain

Another priceless entry in what is proving to be a banner year for Saturday Night Live. This latest gem comes from the special Thursday, October 23rd edition of Weekend Update. Apparently George W. Bush has decided to not only school Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) on the duties of the vice president, but also decides his super-duper endorsement is just what McCain needs. Of course, McCain is nowhere to be found, hiding from W for all that he's worth ... but you can watch for yourself.

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Andy and Opie, Ritchie and the Fonz All Endorse Obama

Good guy Director Ron Howard had made a wonderful video, bringing back beloved TV characters to stump for Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). For those of us who grew up on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, the clip is a fun walk down memory lane -- with a creative current events twist. Even better, Howard teamed up with former co-stars Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler to reprise their most famous roles.

The video is not a hyperbolic, liberal Hollywood endorsement -- not that there's anything wrong with that! But Howard doesn't take himself too seriously, and says he has voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past -- but like so many of us, feels that this time around the country needs change. Go ahead, give the video a view. It's a welcome oasis in a sea of negativity.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Copyright 2008 (text only). The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.