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!

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