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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Ohio Art: Makers of the Etch A Sketch Turn 100

One of my favorite toys from childhood was a the Etch A Sketch -- and it's not just cuz I'm a born and bred Buckeye. More than 150 million Etch A Sketches have been sold by the Bryan, Ohio-based Ohio Art Co. since the toy was introduced in 1960. Ohio Art, founded in Archbold, Ohio in 1908, will mark its 100th anniversary this month (October).

The toy was first developed by a French electrician and then perfected by Ohio Art's engineers. Since the toy's introduction in 1960, some enterprising folks have developed an amazing level of skill and creativity with the device, using Etch A Sketches to create remarkably detailed drawings.

Ohio Art was founded by a dentist who decided to put his plaster casting skills to different use. The company moved to Bryan in 1912 and installed metal lithography equipment to begin stamping picture frames from wood-grained metal. From there, it was an easy step in 1917 to begin stamping metal toys -- Ohio Art's first toy line debuted with windmills and moved on to climbing monkeys, miniature tea sets and -- to the horror of parents everywhere -- drums. Many of the company's earliest toys have become collectibles -- some with very cult-like followings.

Etch A Sketch is probably Ohio Art’s best known creation, but its current lineup of toys also includes the Betty Spaghetty dolls, Magna Doodle, Doodle Doug and K’s Kids infant and toddler toys. Sixty percent of the company’s products go to just five big retailers, including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us. In fact, it was Wal-Mart's persistent pressure on the bottom line that eventually forced Ohio Art to move its toy production to China. The company held out until the 1990s, when they were one of the last toy manufacturers to capitulate. K’s Kids is the company’s way of offering toys created especially for small, independently owned mom-and-pop stores -- more power to Ohio Art there.

A little over 100 people work at Ohio Art’s Bryan site, which also sports a busy metal lithography operation that accounts for almost a third of their business. The company makes specialty metal containers for everything from perfume to liquor, DVDs to chewing tobacco

Ohio Art has recently developed a very special package of its own — the tin box that will contain the anniversary Etch A Sketch it has unveiled in conjunction with its centennial. The Etch A Sketch will be featured on QVC -- and the holidays are just around the corner!

Happy Birthday, Ohio Art -- and many happy returns. Keep doing your best to keep those home-grown Buckeye jobs on American soil, and keep making children happy all over the world. Me, I'll continue to keep my mini Etch A Sketch on my desk at work -- for stress relief and lighter moments. :)

Draw your own Etch A Sketch creation!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Rats are Jumping Ship: High Profile Republicans Endorse Obama, McCain Campaign Concedes Key States

People do not like a loser, and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is starting to be a stinker -- if you go by his own party's behavior.

First, well known conservative pundit George Will seems to have had it with The Maverick -- McCain's deer-in-the-headlights reaction to the economic crisis seems to have sent Will over the edge. Then, in the course of a week, Christopher Buckley -- columnist for the Weekly Standard, a conservative handbook founded by his famous father William F. Buckley -- broke ranks and endorsed Sen. Barack Obama. By the way, Buckley got fired for his trouble. How dare he exercise independent thinking!

Then, Gen. Colin Powell, a respected former military man and Bush 43's first secretary of state, came out on Meet the Press for the junior senator from Illinois -- and Rush Limbaugh pretty much called Powell a racist for his trouble. Also this past week, conservative Philadelphia talk show host Michael Smerconish endorsed Obama, live on his WPHT show on Friday (you can listen to his rationale here). Truly, you cannot make this stuff up.

Then, just today, CNN reported that top McCain campaign officials are "making tough decisions" -- pulling campaign staff about of states they no longer see as winnable: Colorado, New Mexico and Iowa. Instead, the campaign is counting on Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and an improbable comeback in Pennsylvania to tip the electoral college balance. In defense, the McCain campaign said: "We see the race tightening both internally and in public polling. We are within striking distance in the key battleground states we need to win." One clearly has to wonder -- what kinda crack are the McCain people smoking?

Frankly, why do they bother to announce this kinda stuff? Talk about scary red flags. Holy smokes, Batman, this campaign's on fire -- and the rats are leaving the ship. Worse, in key states, the McCain campaign is literally giving up the ship.

Lest you think The Zaftig Redhead is becoming overconfident regarding an Obama victory, au contraire. I have no illusions about the dirty tactics and shady voter suppression efforts headed our way. That's why I am encouraging everyone who can to take part in early voting or absentee balloting. This will minimize the impact of these last ditch, underhanded efforts to swing or suppress the vote, and will help to minimize the lines at the polls on election day -- which by all accounts are going to be long. Let's beat them at their own game folks -- for those of you who can, get out there and vote, NOW!

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Interactive Timeline: Eight Years of Republican Failure

For those waffling voters out there wondering what four-to-eight years of McSame might look like, let's take a moment to recap the last eight. If you're like me, you'll probably throw up a little bit in your mouth as you literally gag over the disaster of the past two presidential terms, courtesy of Bush 43, Cheney and Company.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama, Condemns Robocalls -- but will not Campaign for the Democrat

In 2007, Gen. Colin Powell gave a political donation to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Yes, in the primary, Powell was pulling for the Maverick -- and calls him a "dear friend." But Powell has become increasingly concerned about the direction that the Republican party has taken, and Powell cites Gov. Sarah Palin's selection as further evidence of that troubling shift. On the subject of Palin (R-AK), Powell said, "She is a very distinguished woman and should be admired, but after watching her for the past six weeks I don't believe she is ready to be president. And that is an issue of McCain's judgement."

In coming to his decision, Powell said he watched both candidates over the past few weeks -- as a part of a sort of "final exam" as they dealt with the economic crisis. He talked about his concerns that McCain seemed less sure of himself in taking on these bread and butter economic issues, while Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) showed intellectual rigor and a steadiness that impressed W's former secretary of state.

As a result, Powell announced Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press that he will be voting for Sen. Barack Obama, citing the Democrat's "ability to inspire" and the "inclusive nature of his campaign."

"He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure," the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Powell expressed real frustration and disappointment about the McCain campaign's overuse of 1960's radical William Ayers, and was genuinely troubled by their focus on such an inconsequential matter -- the RNC and McCain are still doing Ayers robo calls in many states -- while so many more important issues were begging for attention.

Powell also shared his concern about the Republican party's not-so-subtle pushing of the myth at Obama is Muslim -- and was eloquent in saying, "no, he's not, he's a Christian. But so what if he was? Why do we care? That's not American, that's not what this country is all about." Right on, General.

"Both John McCain and Barack Obama would be a good president. It isn't easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain has I have this morning," Powell went on to say. "Barack Obama will not only electrify the country, he will electrify the world."

Powell said he was not interested in returning to government, but out of respect would talk to any president who wished to speak to him. Powell in an Obama Administration -- in some way, shape, or fashion? It could happen, folks. It could happen. And the country would be better for it.

Take a listen to the inflammatory robocalls McCain-Palin and the RNC are making across the country.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Palin Gets Decent Reviews Playing Herself on SNL

Whoever thought that vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's most sustained television appearance (outside of news coverage of canned stump speeches) would be on Saturday Night Live? Imagine that -- a few weeks before the election, and she's never done a press conference, never done a Sunday morning talking head show. These are strange times indeed, my friend. So SNL decided to help the Alaskan governor out by holding a press conference for her on last night's show -- something the tightly handled Palin has never actually done.

But the reviews are in -- and Palin did pretty well on the Oct. 18 SNL. Truthfully, it seemed like she was a pretty good sport. But being a good sport -- a prop while activity goes on around her -- is not what we need in a vice president. It makes her a bit more likable, perhaps, but her SNL appearance doesn't make her -- or McCain -- any more fit to take the reins this country at a time when we desperately need solid, thoughtful leadership.

Here's the press conference skit -- with a special appearance by Alec Baldwin -- for your viewing pleasure.

And here's The SNL Weekend Update rap about Palin -- performed while the real governor bops to the music.

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

Friday, October 17, 2008

Momentary Campaign Ceasefire for Presidential Stand Up at the Al Smith Dinner

The two presidential candidates took a welcome respite from the largely unfunny if not downright dangerous attacks of this year's race for the White House, and instead dusted off some more lighthearted ammunition at the annual Al Smith Memorial Foundation charity event. Held in honor of the late New York Governor to benefit children's charities, the dinner was held in New York City Thursday night and featured such gems as: "I hear you can see the Russian Tearoom from here." Some good stuff -- and a helluva lot more fun than the debates!

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

CQ: Democratic Money Decreases Republican Chances for Victory

Congressional Quarterly, better known as CQ, has changed several race ratings this week. We've all heard about CNN moving Virginia from the swing-state category into the "Leans Democratic" category, thanks to Barack Obama's newly announced 10-point lead in the commonwealth. But here is the low-down on some House races previously thought out of Big Blue's reach. Not anymore, my friends. Here's the gist, from an Oct. 17th posting on

A worsening political environment for Republicans and a massive infusion of cash from the Democratic Party are causing CQ Politics to change the ratings in two dozen congressional races, all in the Democrats’ favor.

Recruiting and funding candidates in dozens of House districts — many of which had not been competitive partisan battlefields in years — is a continuation of the Democrats’ strategy from 2006, when the party made a net gain of 30 House seats to capture the majority.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which is engineering the party’s effort to grow its majority this year, expanded its efforts to put Republican-held seats in play — and recent political developments and just-filed campaign finance reports indicate that the strategy is producing a bounty of contested races that exceeds the expectations of many Democratic optimists.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber is ... not a Plumber -- and his Name is Sam

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher of Holland, OH is the "Joe" of "Joe the Plumber" fame. Yes, the average Joe made famous during the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night is really a ... Sam. And this discrepancy is not the first issue that has cropped up about the country's latest media celebrity. Apparently, the pipes of Joe's story have gotten a little clogged, sprung a leak, lost a washer -- um, you get the point.

Apparently, Joe is not a licensed plumber and he owes $1200 in back taxes -- according to court records, anyway. No wonder Joe was so worried about Barack Obama's tax plan -- Joe was already in hot water with the tax man. Joe's 15 minutes of fame are about over -- thank God -- though the press was sure hot on his tail today. Wurzelbacher also figured prominently in tonight's special Thursday edition of SNL's Weekend Update and debate spoof. And he got the impressive cultural distinction of inspiring a Top Ten List -- the icing on any shooting star's cake of infamy. From David Letterman's Home Office on Thursday Night, folks, here it is:

Top Ten Messages left on Joe the Plumber's Answering Machine

10) Heard you mentioned in the debate last night, now can you get the hairball out of my drain?

9) This is Joe Sixpack calling -- what are you trying to pull?

8) Sorry, wrong number. I was looking fof Larry the Cable Guy.

7) Dude, did you get to meet Fannie Mae?

6) This is Sarah Palin. Do you consider yourself to be a Maverick plumber?

5) You had a better night than Joe the Dodgers' manager.

4) This is Bob Schieffer. Hijack my show again and I will bust your kneecaps with a tire iron.

3) You've got to get a copy of the Late Night Show's Fun Facts, it's hilarious.

2) It' Brian from The Late Show. Are you available tonight if McCain cancels?

1) It's Madonna. Are you seeing anybody?
Also from the annals of late night: while Joe Biden visited The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, John McCain finally showed up on The Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night -- after dissing him a few weeks back. When Letterman bluntly asked, "So what happened?" McCain simply answered, "I screwed up!" Boy Howdy, Maverick, did you ever. Letterman filleted you after you tossed him over for -- of all people -- Katie Couric. Big mistake. Huge.

Letterman proceeded to grill the Arizona senator about his vice presidential pick -- McCain admitted again that he didn't know Sarah Palin when he selected her, that they had simply met on a few occasions -- and the host was clearly incredulous about the Palin decision. Letterman also grilled McCain about the whole William Ayers issue -- and made McCain squirm when he was asked about a McCain fundraiser G. Gordon Liddy had at his home in 1998. The Letterman interview really was entertaining to watch -- almost as good as an Olbermann Special Comment!

By the way, after all this hubbub about good ol' Joe, McCain admitted to Letterman that the Republican candidate had not yet spoken to Wurzelbacher, and apologized for the media attention the wannabe plumber had received. Game over, folks.

Fact Checking Joe the Plumber

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kids Tell Parents: Don't Vote for McCain

Kind of along the lines of Sarah Silverman's "The Great Schlep," another campaign is out playing on the power of youth over older voters in the family. This ad, in particular, is aimed at young people -- some too young to vote themselves. It smartly features a few of the actors from the popular CW show, Gossip Girl, and gives humorous ways for young people to talk to -- and stop -- their parents from voting for The Maverick. I find it pretty amusing to have voting for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) compared to the dangers of drunk driving, with a kid saying: "If you're out and you feel like voting for John McCain, just call me and I'll pick you up -- no questions asked." Then again, considering the selfish binge the Bush administration has been on, spending both the surplus and our international goodwill like drunken sailors, perhaps the perils of a McSame administration are aptly compared.

According to the Partnership for a McCain-Free White House, "Young people overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. But too many of their parents don't. So we launched a fun new ad and site encouraging young people to talk to their parents about John McCain." The campaign, developed by, gives some important warning signs to look for in parents who may be straying off the progressive path:

1) Prefacing every sentence with "Lemme give you a little straight talk."
2) Arguing that it's crucially important for a president to be erratic and unstable.
3) Referring to the past 8 years of American history as "The Golden Age."
4) Saying things like, "Sarah Palin is a reasonable choice as VP."
5) Having trouble making eye contact.
6) Wandering and pacing aimlessly.
7) Disparaging Spain for no apparent reason.
8) Delusionally believing all people they meet are "[their] friends" —- even though most people are kinda creeped out by them.
9) Being unable to accurately count the number of homes they own, cars they drive, or years the United States should remain in Iraq.
10) Putting a McCain-Palin yard sign in the front lawn.
Time after time this year, we've seen people come out in support of Barack Obama because their children told them to. Or asked them to. Or simply challenged them to follow their hearts and their hopes this time.

But there's more work to do. Right now, young people back Barack Obama by overwhelming numbers. But their parents and grandparents are still leaning more towards John McCain.

People decide who to vote for based on the opinions of the people they trust—and family plays a huge role. The more young people who talk to their parents, the better chance Obama has on November 4th.

Please do your part. Talk to your parents today.

The Partnership's clarion call is clear: Talk to you parents, for the life you save may be your own! Vote for Barack Obama. Amen.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sheryl Crow's "God Bless This Mess:" An Eloquent Statement for Change

Folks, I have always been a Sheryl Crow fan. One of the highlights of the Democratic National Convention was seeing her perform -- and of course show her political stripes. In fact, if you go to Crow's blog, you can read about why the grammy-winning singer-songwriter supports Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for president. Now, she's come out with a new song that gets right to the heart of the matter: "God Bless This Mess." The song is included on Detours, Sheryl Crow’s sixth studio album. Take a look at this live version below, or watch the official video.

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

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Guest Blog: Michelle Obama -- Partner in Leadership

Hello readers. Enjoy this guest blog from my friend Gunfighter. It's worth the read.

Everyone who has five spare minutes to listen to me talk, knows that I am devoted to the task of getting Barack Obama elected President of the United States. I am proud to support Senator Obama because of his clear thinking, and the sound, cogent, policies that he plans to pursue when he is elected. I am prouder still, to support Senator Obama because of his family. Yes, because of his family.

Senator Obama has a great family, and by any indication that I can use, he seems to be a great husband and a great dad... and you all know that Gunfighter is all about being the best dad in the world.... but, that's enough about Barack Obama for the moment. Where I really want to go in this post is to point out that no man is an island. This statement is particularly true if the man in question is vying for the Presidency of the United States. This is no less true of Barack Obama.... and isn't he a lucky dog to have Michelle at his side?!

Michelle Obama is a treasure. A National Treasure. She is an inspiration to people across political lines, across generational lines, and across racial lines. Michele Obama is the quintessential American woman. She has achieved great professional success on her own intellect and merit. She is a loving wife and mother, and she is a tireless campaigner for her husband.

My friends over at Momocrats, are particularly fond of Mrs Obama because she is one of them, a sister, a kindred spirit. Not only are they fond of her because of the things that she has said, and the things that she has accomplished, they also love her for recently guest posting at their blog... which, I have to say, was pretty cool.

Mrs. Obama, I salute you. As the father of two daughters, I can't tell you how pleased I am that you, and other women like you (and Mrs. Gunfighter, and all of the other strong, intelligent and accomplished ladies that I am privileged to know) are there as great examples and role models to the young women of our country, not because of the men that you graced with your partnership in marriage, but in your own right. I am also pleased that you are there at Barack's side during this long campaign. I know that both you will continue to be assets to each other, to your children, and to our entire country.


Friday, October 10, 2008

DC News Briefs: Lost Relatives, Historic Votes and ... Mani-Pedi's?

A few days ago I did my first DC News Briefs blog, and I find I like the format -- perfect for the latest juicy news from inside the beltway. So, friends, here's another installment of news tidbits direct from our nation's capital -- the strange, the remarkable, the trivial (but interesting), and some things guaranteed to piss you off. Expect this to become a regular feature -- hell, I'll even give DC briefs their own label.

A Record Vote in More Ways Than One: The Oct. 3 House vote on the $700 billion financial bailout package was historic in more ways than one. Aside from the massive socialization of risk/privatization of profits trade off that occurred, it was also notable because all members of the chamber showed up to cast their votes. Shamefully, this marked the first time in five years that the entire body had cast a simple yes or no on a piece of legislation. Way to go, team!

Palin and the Princess: Apparently VEEP candidate Sarah Palin is distantly related to Princess Diana and FDR. But she's not the only one with some presidential DNA -- apparently Barack Obama is related to Dick Cheney, Gerald Ford, and Bush 41 and Bush 43. Damn. McCain's got connections as well -- to Laura Bush, of all people, as well as King Louis VII of France. No wonder the Maverick has delusions of grandeur.

Uncle Sam Gives a Mani-Pedi: Less than a week after the federal government -- um, that would be you and me -- so generously offered an $85 billion bailout to insurance giant AIG, the company held a week-long retreat for its executives at the luxury St. Regis Resort in California, running up an astonishing tab of $440,000. The executives spent $200,000 for rooms, $150,000 for meals and $23,000 for the spa. No wonder AIG needed that additional loan of $38 billion just to make ends meet.

Remember the First Stimulus? October 15 is the last day to file for those stimulus rebates. At last count, at least 4.3 million Americans had yet to claim their $300 to $600 booty. You can find out if you're eligible for the debt-funded windfall on a prior blog I did on the topic. By the way, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is still talking about another stimulus bill -- the House passed a measure just before they recessed, but the Senate failed to follow suit.

Voter Suppression Rears its Ugly Head Again... and Again, and Again: According to an investigation by the New York Times, upwards of tens of thousands of eligible voters in as many as six swing states have been removed from the registration rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that might to violate federal law.

Obama Makes Record Ad Buy: Already advertising at record levels, Barack Obama has scheduled a half-hour commercial for prime time on Oct. 29, six days before Election Day. I guess he's betting that he can lure people from FOX, who will showing the sixth game of the World Series at the same time -- or perhaps, now that Chicago's teams are out of the running, he just doesn't give a crap. The Obama campaign has lined up a 30-minute block of time at 8p.m. on both NBC and CBS -- the latter of which is already pushing back "The New Adventures of Old Christine" to sell the time. The campaign is still working on ABC.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Arte y Pico Award for The Zaftig Redhead

At the end of September, The Zaftig Redhead was honored, flattered, and thrilled to receive the Arte y Pico Award for my humble blogging efforts. The award was bestowed by my blogging mentor, Gunfighter -- he'll be surprised to hear me call him that, but it's true. GF, as he is affectionately referred to, is the brains behind the blog Gunfighter: A Modern Warrior's Life. He has been wonderfully encouraging to me in this blogging adventure, and I can't thank him enough -- not only for the personal support but also for his efforts to help me spread the word about The Zaftig Redhead. This award is just one example of that support.

What is the award about? It's perhaps best explained by looking at the meaning of the expression Arte y Pico. According to the Arte y Pico website, which started all the mutual blogger love through this award, "basically, ironically, it translates into a wonderful phrase in Mexico, 'lo maximo.' It will never find its counterpart in English, but if it HAD to, it would be something like, 'Wow. The Best Art. Over the top.'"

In passing the award along to me, which GF himself has received, Gunfighter wrote: "The Zaftig Redhead is a resident of our nation’s Capital and writes about politics and public policy. Although her blog is fairly new, ZR (as I call her) has jumped right into the fray with both barrels blazing. She is super busy because of the political campaigns, but she has promised that she will continue our interview when it is all said and done." Thanks, GF, and we will do that interview -- I promise!

The rules of the Arte y Pico Award are as follows:

1. You have to pick five blogs that you consider deserve this award in terms of creativity, design, interesting material, and general contributions to the blogger community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each winner has to show the award and give the name and link to the blog that has given him or her the award itself.

4. Each winner and each giver of the prize has to show the link of Arte y Pico blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

Now, by the power vested in me, it is my turn to share the blog love. I hereby happily designate the following 5 blogs (in no particular order) as Arte y pico winners:

The Political Voices of Women, a great community of more than 500 women's political bloggers, organized by Catherine Morgan. According to Morgan, "This is a blog answering the question, 'Where are all the women political bloggers?' The answer is ... They are here. It began simply as my response to a New York Times article on the lack of women political bloggers. What started as a list of 100 women bloggers grew to 200 (and now over 500), and then I decided to take a leap of faith and start a blog as a spin-off to the list. Now the blog and the list have taken on a life of their own, and each day they are growing and changing, mostly due to contributions of other women bloggers." I'm proud to have my blog on this list.

Contrarienne, the blog by fellow Washingtonian and former reporter JulieMac, is always a fun read, with straight news and quirky tidbits too. The blog is a "diary of random thoughts about found, shiny objects from the intertubes." The Contrarienne herself is "A woman 'of a certain age' with a certain attitude [who] writes for others of similar persuasion. Men allowed."

The Feminist Law Professors blog is a great resource on legal issues affecting women and families. While the goal of the blog is to build a stronger feminist law professor community across scholarly subject areas, it's a great resource for anyone with a progressive bent -- lawyer or not. It's written by a professors from across the country, too, which means you never know what topic will be next. The blog also proves something I have know all along: feminists DO have a sense of humor, dammit!

The HeartFeldt Politics blog, written by noted feminist Gloria Feldt, is a great read and a great resource. An author, and also the former president of Planned Parenthood, Feldt is connected to the inner circles but makes the world accessible. She has a great love for grassroots, community organizing, and that in and of itself makes her worthy of the award.

And the fifth blog upon which I'm bestowing the Arte y Pico Award is... up to you, my readers. What blog do you love? Share them with me, either by email or by commenting below, and help me complete my list... I simply could not settle on my final entry. And thanks again, Gunfighter. You're the best.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

DC News Briefs: High Court, Lame Ducks, and Goodbye to Larry Craig

A few news updates from this gorgeous autumn day in our Nation's Capital.

Senate Shenanigans: Fulfilling my prediction from way back in January, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already scheduled a lame duck session beginning Nov. 17. Senators will already be in Washington for the biennial meetings to elect party leaders and set the rules of their the timing works.

In the meantime, beginning Monday the Senate will hold the first of a series of pro forma Senate sessions -- which means the Senate will not be going into recess. As a result, President Bush will be prevented from naming any recess appointments -- as he's been known to do.

Mr. Wide Stance Says Goodbye: Sen. Larry "I'm Not Gay" Craig (R-ID), forced out of office because of one of the more memorable sex scandals in political history, said goodbye on Thursday to a mostly empty Senate chamber. Has it really been only a year since the Idaho Republican unleashed some of the best political satire Washington has ever seen with his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting? With much less fanfare — in fact, none at all — Craig delivered his last speech to the nearly vacant Senate floor. A couple of senators troubled themselves to say nice things about his legislative record; Craig said good things about them in return -- and then it was OVER. Finally. Godspeed, Larry.

Supreme Court Begins New Term: The first Monday in October is always the first day of the new high court session. The 2008-09 term has a docket that includes cases about employment and sex discrimination, education, and others. Among the cases already accepted for review are a case where the justices will decide whether Title IX provides the exclusive legal remedy for cases of sex discrimination in public schools. Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (Case No. 07-1125) is scheduled for argument Dec. 2. The court will also be hearing a case that will provide the basis for a potentially important ruling on job discrimination. The question is whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects a worker from being dismissed because she cooperated with her employer’s internal investigation of alleged sexual harassment of another worker. Crawford v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (No. 06-1595) will be argued Oct. 8.

Pork Barrel Spending Brings ... Presents? One of Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) district offices -- the one in West Chester, OH, to be exact -- was evacuated Monday after a suspicious package from Georgia arrived in the mail. After noticing it was leaking an oily substance, Boehner's staff called the Capitol Hill police in Washington, DC. The police advised the staff to evacuate as a precaution and call in local authorities. After an X-ray analysis, police investigators determined the package contained -- bacon. On a related note, Boehner voted twice last week for a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.

House Republicans Break a Record ... for Gridlock: The Grand Old Party in the House managed to rack up a new record for the 110th Congress -- 120 motions to recommit overall during the two-year period, more than doubling the previous record of 56 set by Democrats in the 109th Congress. What is an MTR, you thoughtfully ask? Well, it's a parliamentary maneuver -- traditionally the right of the minority party -- to provide one last chance to amend or kill the bill. So yes, MTRs basically direct to House to go back to the drawing board -- and muck up the works as well. Wanna slow things down? Offer an MTR. Want to make the majority party nuts? Offer and MTR that picks off some of the majority party's members. In that vein, it is important to note that within this new gridlock record was another record -- 24 of the 120 MTRs were actually adopted, far exceeding the old record of 6 set by the 106th Congress. This means the ruling party -- the Democrats -- got beat at their own game 24 times. Yikes. Come on, Nancy, you can do better than that.

Stevens Gets Busted by ... Himself: Jurors listened Monday to a secretly recorded phone call in which Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) coaches the businessman on how to avoid an obstruction of justice charge. That same businessman paid for a major renovation of Stevens’ home. In the October 2006 phone conversation, it was clear that Stevens was aware that a grand jury was investigating his conduct. During the call, Stevens urged the businessman to forgo additional conversation and start communicating with him primarily through lawyers. Of course, little did Stevens know that Bill Allen, head of he oil services company VECO Corp., was already cooperating with federal investigators. Stevens is in a tough re-election race, and these calls, this trial -- well, let's just say Alaskans are growing increasingly weary of Uncle Ted.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Build the Next Cabinet: Who Do You Think Should be the Next Secretary of... ?

Between Election Day and Inauguration Day, some of the biggest decisions facing the president-elect will be choosing his cabinet — the critical people who will run the executive departments and the most prominent agencies in our country's government. The transition team will spend that short time frame in a frenzied effort to screen and select the next set of leaders for the executive branch, and dole out political appointments galore.

Thanks to's fun new game, The Cabinet Maker lets you personally assemble a core group of advisers for the next occupant of the White House. What would an Obama or McCain administration look like if you had your druthers? The game features candidates chosen by CQ's beat reporters as likely suspects for 18 top positions, so it's an interesting preview of the Washington-style game of musical chairs that will play out when a new sheriff comes to town. Take a look.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Meet the Press Veep Debate Post-mortem with Gwen Ifil

On October 5, Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw, David Gregory and other luminaries of the pundit world gathered for the Sunday morning talking head chatfest known as Meet the Press. Top of the agenda: Saturday Night Live and the vice presidential debate. I will admit I had been a bit disappointed in Ifill's performance as moderator -- I've always thought of her as a serious, credible journalist -- so her kid-gloved handling of Palin was annoying and a bit of a surprise. But after hearing Ifill's perspective, I understand a little better why the debate played out the way it did -- and have more sympathy for her role. I still think Ifill could have pushed more... but this roundtable discussion on MTP is nonetheless enlightening.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2008

NBC's Brian Williams Dishes about Palin on Letterman: Funny and Informative

I don't know about you, but when I look at Brian Williams, I am inevitably reminded of a "Ken" doll. Not really fair, I know -- he's a good newsman. But he just doesn't move me. Still, I must admit that if I watch the network evening news -- I'm more of a cable girl myself -- I tend to watch NBC Nightly News. I think it's a Brokaw holdover -- nobody did it like Brokaw. Yes, Cronkite was great, but I don't really remember him all that well -- that's just history to me. In my lifetime, Brokaw was the man.

Anyway, I came across this great interview David Letterman did with Williams on Friday -- post-vice presidential debate. It's very informative, and Williams reveals a pretty wonderful sense of humor as well as his chops as a serious newsman. I do need to say there are some sexist remarks by Letterman that I found more than a little problematic -- I know, I know, it's late night television. And while I am not a Palin fan, I couldn't help but cringe at some of Letterman's remarks and his tone as he mimicked the vice presidential candidate. I don't have to like her politics to object to that -- to me, that's an obligation that is above politics. Letterman's sexist remarks are also evidenced in the debate recap Letterman did just prior to Williams coming on stage. Letterman walked a narrow comedy line in the recap -- some of it worked, some most definitely did not.

The Williams interview comes in two parts from YouTube... if you like the first segment, you'll enjoy the second one as well.

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

The Palin-Biden Debate, SNL Style, w/ Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill

Yep, folks, you knew I would post it -- last night's Saturday Night Live skit about the Great Debate. Truthfully, I've practically been forced to post the Oct. 4th video -- it was clear from the site traffic people were dropping by The Zaftig Redhead to see if I'd given some blog real estate the latest SNL ditty -- how could I disappoint? The long and short of it is this: Tina Fey continues to amaze, and Sarah Palin continues to suffer for it. And the SNL crew got some good zingers in on moderator Gwen Ifill -- played winningly by Queen Latifah -- as well as Biden's bombastic style. If you really want to have some fun, check out this great flow chart detailing Palin's debate strategy before you watch the SNL video -- it makes it all come together. Enjoy!

"I want to be done playing this lady Nov. 5," Tina Fey said in September 2008 at teh Emmys. "So if anybody can help me be done playing this lady Nov. 5, that would be good for me."

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

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Gibberish Decoded: Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

I got this little ditty from Penny Ronning's Blog via the Political Voices of Women Community site, where I sometimes cross-post my blogs. As you can see, it was too good not to pass along. Enjoy!

Palin Revealed as Little More than a Useful Prop for the McCain Campaign

The McCain campaign never bothered to tell Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) that they were conceding Michigan. She revealed Friday in a Fox News interview -- the only post-debate interview the McCain campaign allowed Palin to do -- that she read about it in the newspaper. (Wonder which paper? -- since she couldn't seem to remember any in her disastrous interview with CBS' Katie Couric.) Clearly, Palin is not even close to the inner circle of the campaign -- she's only the running mate after all.

The Maverick's campaign has no plans to have Palin visit any of the Sunday talk shows -- a rite of passage for any serious politician. Damn, I would have loved to have seen Tim Russert get a hold of this supposed junior Maverick wannabe. I bet it would be similar to his now-famous systematic dismantling of David Duke -- revealed as nothing but the racist he was during his unsuccessful run for Louisiana governor several years ago.

There are no other serious interviews planned for Palin -- at least not at the moment. For the next 30 days or so, she'll live in a cocoon. It will be scripted campaign stops only for Sarahcuda -- in short, Palin has become the favorite prop of the McCain campaign. She'll be wound up and trotted out to rile up the base -- and raise funds -- at whistle stops around the country. Palin might cut a few commercials. She'll sign autographs, wink at the crowd, give a shout out to the kiddies, and flirt with Joe Sixpack -- a full day of mugging for the cameras but no answering of any substantive questions. No wonder Americans sense she's not ready for the job.

It's insulting. Condescending. Patronizing. To the entire nation -- but most especially women. Now, let me be clear here -- I am not a Palin fan. I don't think she's qualified to be Vice President. I don't agree with her on anything -- except for perhaps the fact that the sky is, indeed, blue. But I don't think she's a complete idiot either -- she actually was at the start of a promising political career, before John McCain plucked her from that path of development and thrust her into a situation for which she is not prepared. The choice shows not only McCain's lack of judgement, but his selfishness as well. Clearly McCain is willing to expose the nation to the consequences of an ill-advised choice and Palin herself to all kinds of ridicule -- SNL is only the tip of the iceberg, as we know. Yep, McCain has thrust Palin into situations for which she is not prepared simply because she is useful to him, as a sort of Trojan Horse disguising his lackluster campaign -- and potentially setting back all women in the process. No wonder Palin is especially unpopular with likely women voters -- as revealed by a TIME poll done even before her twinkie performance at the debate.

Sure, Palin is good at memorizing and reciting talking points. She's personable -- when the folksiness isn't faked she has a certain charm. But Palin needs more seasoning. A chance to build her political chops on the national stage -- perhaps through the National Governors Association or the Republican Governors Association. And she likely would have if The Maverick had not interrupted a promising political career. Now, if the McCain-Palin ticket loses -- WHEN the McCain-Palin loses -- Sarah Palin will be nothing but a footnote, a joke, an object of derision. And she'll be headed back to lead a state that -- now that it knows her a lot better thanks to John McCain -- is a helluva lot less enamored of their governor.

There are no shortage of media opinions from the right and the left coming to this same conclusion -- that the McCain's campaign positioning of Palin ultimately hurts her and other women candidates. Some have even called for Palin to step down from the campaign. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote just last week:

"As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion...Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League..."

"Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there...If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

"Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first. Do it for your country."
In "Sarah Palin, 'Girl' Candidate: Restricted Access Feeds Gender Bias in Coverage," Linda Lowen writes:
"Whether deliberate or unintended, the soft focus of the Early Show interview [with Palin's parents] barely obscures a biased angle that has become media shorthand for the narrative of Palin's campaign -- the plucky, big-hearted, fresh-faced but naive candidate. This simplistic archetype jeopardizes not just Palin in this particular instance, but all women who run for public office who are young and attractive. The stakes do not revolve about a girl who played high school basketball and won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant, but a woman struggling to convince voters of her qualifications and her suitability to lead the US as president should the need arise."
In the Detroit Free Press, Rochelle Riley writes:
"She should drop out of the race (no explanation would be needed) and stop making women look bad."

"Her whining about answering a question she wasn't prepared for makes it clear she's not ready for prime time. But her month-long Bumble Across America Tour, during which she has displayed an increasingly clearer level of ignorance about the world and politics, shows she's not ready to represent women. Asking pointed questions of candidates who may become the leaders who run the country not only is allowed, but necessary and prudent. But the more we learn about Palin, the more frightening she becomes. The more she learns about the job and domestic and foreign affairs, the more frightened she should become...Palin is setting the gender back by decades. The next time a woman runs for any national office, her opponents will have sound bites galore from the Palin ditz reel, the last time a woman ran."
It pains me to say it, folks, but the Palin Problem needs to be addressed. I don't want her or her party to win this election -- and maybe her staying on the ticket furthers that Democratic goal. But I also don't want Palin to crash and burn -- selfishly, for the women candidates that will come behind her. And while Palin did not crash in the debate, she did not put all the burning questions to rest, either. I am faced with this awful truth: I'm not sure what's worse -- Palin stepping down, or Palin staying on the ticket. But I do know this much: it would be a cruel, cruel joke -- after Geraldine Ferraro and Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Clinton -- to have the first woman to be a heartbeat from the presidency be someone who simply is not up to the job.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

'Tis the Season to Test Your Citizenship Chops: Have You Got the Right Stuff?

Despite the fact that immigration seems to have fallen off the short list of hot topics -- there was not one question about it during the vice presidential debate -- the issue is still roiling under the surface. And it is also often the excuse of choice for people trying to suppress voter turnout -- you know, because illegal immigrants are simply flooding the polls with illegal votes. Yeah, right.

Well, for those of us lucky to be American born and bred, we have a choice at the polls coming up in about a month. Yes, one of the key responsibilities and privileges of citizenship is voting.

But for those folks who chose the United States as the country of their hearts and minds, but are not born in the red, white and blue, they have to take and pass a citizenship test before such rights are conferred upon them. Could you pass the test? Have you taken it? Well, here's your chance -- and here's another version that's even tougher. Some questions are a bit of a gimme, and the way the first example from AOL is set up -- with pictures -- is not how those looking to become naturalized citizens get to take it. No hints allowed. But the government is revising the questions, making them tougher -- tough enough that more than a few natural-born citizens would fail.

I bet there will be a few questions you have to think about. Do you have what it takes to be a citizen?

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Debate Advice from the Pros -- and from Some Who've Been There

There's no shortage of debate tips and advice being bandied about these days, as Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) prepare to square off tonight. In this historic election season, it's worth noting that this is not the first time a man and woman have squared off in the vice presidential debate. Remember Bush 41 vs. Geraldine Ferraro?

MSNBC did a good interview with the historic debate duo, the first time the two have ever sat down together for an interview. That's hard to believe since Bush 41 and Ferraro debated almost 25 years ago, but it's true nonetheless. And while the political tables have been turned for the Biden-Palin debate — a male Democrat is facing off against a female Republican — Bush and Ferraro agreed that public interest in the debate is higher because of the gender factor. I agree, but I believe the anticipation about tonight's event also stems largely from Palin herself. She's still inexplicably popular with the Republican base, while at the same time its been leaked that leaders of her own party are increasingly concerned about her performance. After that tete-a-tete with Katie Couric, who can blame them? Polls show the public is increasingly skeptical about Palin's qualifications as well -- though how much that skepticism will affect their votes remains to be seen.

Richard Edwards, author of Competitive Debate: The Official Guide, has also offered some interesting advice for the vice presidential candidates via The Political Wire.

Edwards' Tips for Sarah Palin

-- Concentrate less on details of the McCain campaign and more on examples and stories which show the ability to connect with ordinary Americans.
-- Less formal town hall format offers ideal opportunity to show understanding for the concerns of Main Street.
-- Don't worry about going for the knock-out blow against your opponent -- it's John McCain who must close the gap in the two remaining presidential debates.
-- Have confidence and offer substantive answers.

Edwards' Tips for Joe Biden

-- Avoid seeming condescending with body language or direct verbal attacks.
-- Make John McCain the opponent rather than Sarah Palin.
-- Be charming by offering sincere congratulations for Palin's ground-breaking nomination.
-- Stay close to the Obama campaign talking points.

So what tips do you have? I know one thing for sure -- Biden needs to avoid the whole Lazio catastrophe. Remember when former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY) debated Hillary Clinton in her first race for Senate. He was soundly criticized for his aggressiveness against the first lady, and while Clinton likely would have won the seat without his problematic debate performance -- well, let's just say, it proved to be the nail in his coffin. Biden also needs to avoid foot-in-mouth disease, and try to act like he's the number two on the Obama-Biden ticket -- no matter how contrary it is to his instincts.

Feel like speaking your mind about who won the debate? Sign up to Rate the Debate -- not just this one but the next two presidential debates as well. According to their web site, Rate the Debates is "a citizen-driven guide to better media coverage of the issues that matter most to Americans. Sign up to use our online tool to rate how well the media moderates the debates as they happen. We will immediately tally your response and inject our people-powered feedback into the news cycle -- before media pundits and spin doctors (mis)interpret the events for their viewers." Great idea, huh?

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