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Archive for October, 2008

Thursday, Oct. 30, Bill Clinton jetted into Minneapolis. With Al Franken at his side, the former president spoke like the commander in chief he was – with august and resplendence. For a while, the clock rolled back to the ’90s when America was led by a president who cared about the middle class, who cared about creating jobs, who cared about doing the right thing for our country as a whole.

Guess what? Clinton still cares and he’s still a great speaker. We shook his hand last night – not just a touch of hands, but I firmly shook the former president’s hand. Standing there on the rope line with the flag looking over the 4,000 people who packed into the convention center, I paused and thought, even with the blanket of turmoil we’re under today, we’re still a great country and we can get our swagger back.

Vote on Nov. 4, people. Vote. Vote. Vote.

President Clinton and senate candidate Al Franken arrived together after an intermission. Everyone quickly forgot we’d been standing on concrete for three hours once they took the stage.

Al Franken (seated) and the rest of us listened to Clinton speak for a solid 40 minutes. I would have stood another hour had he continued.

Working the rope line, Clinton did his best to shake every hand as the crowd sent shout outs like, “We miss you Mr. President,” and “Thanks for coming to Minneapolis, Bill.”

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Vote or Die

I recently took time to watch the latest viral video on Funnyordie.com featuring Ron Howard, Andy Griffith and Henry Winkler. These three celebrities who worked with each other on popular sitcoms in the ’60s and ’70s got together for a “get out the vote” kind of message, conveyed brilliantly. I particularly liked how Ron kept up with the hairstyles he wore in both television shows.

You can see the video right here.

The lines of people waiting to vote on Nov. 4 are forecast to be long. I’ll be standing in the queue with hundreds of my neighbors who walk, drive and bike to our polling place at 5:30 p.m. Here are a few tips on making the wait seem less tedious…

  1. Arrive with a flask of whiskey. Offer “a nip” to those around you.
  2. Wear a Richard Nixon Halloween mask. Invite people nearby to come and see your tricky dick.
  3. Ask those in line with you who they intend to vote for and why. No matter the response, in a sarcastic tone of voice say, “Oh that’s a brilliant choice.”
  4. Comment about how the polling place officials likely voted for Abe Lincoln, “back in the day.”
  5. In a very loud voice say, “ACORN volunteers told you to both file an absentee ballot AND vote on election day.”
  6. Commiserate with those in line with you about the lack of food and beverages served at polling places.  Ask if someone in line will hold your place for you while you go to Subway.
  7. Shuffle your feet and mumble how you sure wish you could vote for GW for a third term.
  8. Tape the words, “I AM A HANGING CHAD” on the back of your coat with masking tape. When people ask you about it, act like you had no idea it was on there.
  9. After voting, walk slowly past those still standing in line with a big smile and thrust your thumbs in the air saying, “I feel your pain” over and over.
  10. Tell a polling place official that you left your colostomy bag in the voting booth and need to get back in there to get it. Double over and pretend to be in severe pain while you say this.

There.  Any or all of these tips should help you make the wait seem much more worthwhile. And if that’s not enough for you, keep in mind that voting in this presidential election is probably the most historic vote that you will ever cast in your lifetime.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

I’ve been uneasy with the McCain campaign long before Sarah Palin was part of it. This photo, by Stephen Crowley, in today’s The New York Times screams “ugly” in many, many ways.

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Junk Mail

There’s a particular junk mail sender that I’m sick with up to here (holding my hand at eyeball level).

The offender, Twin Cities Values, puts more worthless paper in the form of a multi-page ad supplement, which represents nothing but worthless crap, in my mail box than even the most offensive politician 10 days before election day.  Twin Cities Values is owned by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The lovely ad mistress sales rep responsible for actually managing the ad space sold in this waste of paper is Shelly Neilson. Not my best friend, dear Shelly. The ad circular is mailed to all “Valued Customers” in neighborhoods across the Twin Cities region and features worthless advertising paid for by the likes of Menards, Rainbow, Northstar Home Fitness, Pizza Hut, Screen Mobile (a full page ad), Milios Sub Sandwich Shop, El Rodeo Restaurant and The World Market.

Local business owners and managers who choose to waste part of your valuable advertising budget on the  Twin Cities Values rag published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, please be aware, this twice weekly circular goes immediately into my recycling bin. I’m adamant about it. However, many of my neighbors (valued customers, one and all) aren’t all so diligent. They allow the worthless piece of shit that is distributed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, to be blown around the neighborhood streets and lawns, filling up the gutters and littering the ground no matter where one looks.

Nice job Star Tribune. Nice work Shelly and all your underlings at Twin Cities Values.  Your worthless piece of shit advertising circular and the local businesses in my community who choose to waste their money supporting this rag of a paper now reside on my “worst” of all-time list.

And I refuse to step foot into any of the businesses that continue to support your effort bent on wasting trees and littering the neighborhood.

There. I said it.

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From a Real Alaskan

A recent guest column in the Seattle Post Intelligencer is definitely worth a read.  Seth Kanter, an Alaskan native, does an informative (and humorous) job explaining how people in our 50th state advance in business and in politics.

Here’s an excerpt…

That Sarah Palin is one unreal Alaskan

By SETH KANTNER
GUEST COLUMNIST

I’m sitting on my bearskin chair beside the woodstove, in Kotzebue, Alaska, 50 miles above the Arctic Circle, while outside the ocean begins to freeze over. Inside I have about 49 things piling up to say to you, America.

I’m an Alaskan — born in an igloo, enjoy whale muktuk, all that — and in case you aren’t sick of our state by now, I’ll start off with an apology for one of our residents: Sarah Palin.

We Alaskans are not generally so magazine-pretty like her, nor are we so confrontational and vapid. Most of us don’t have those peachy cheeks — we have sunburn, windburn and frostbite. Our fingernails are dirty from actually gutting moose, not yakking about it. Our hands are chapped from picking thousands of salmon out of nets, not holding one up for the camera.

Having said that, here in Alaska we are accustomed to getting jobs we’re not qualified to fill. In our far-flung villages and towns we have big money surrounded by big wilderness; the combination causes warped career opportunities. Sort of an Edge of Nowhere phenomenon — cousin to the Bridge to Nowhere one.

For example, in the village closest to the wilderness homestead where I was raised, I remember standing in my friend’s cabin when his dad got a call on the CB radio: “People are writing you in for mayor.”

“Nope!” my friend’s dad transmitted. “Tell ’em no, I ain’t doing that.” He spit in a can, peered out the door at his Honda generator — idling rough — an extension cord running up the hill and under his door, to power the rerun of “Dukes of Hazzard” he was watching.

If he’d lived in Wasilla 25 years later, he could have responded, “Call Sarah, she’ll want it.”

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Here’s an excerpt from a column written by Dowd and published in The New York Times on Tuesday that so eloquently puts to rest the qualms many Americans have about traits like judgment and diplomacy when thinking about who to vote for in November.

In Dowd’s column she points to Colin Powell and his comments from a recent appearance on Meet the Press in which he said, when referencing continued rumors about Barack Obama’s faith,

…the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no. That’s not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

Experience is important, you bet it is. But clearly, this election must be about finding the right person with good judgment and who will work with others – in the U.S. and internationally – in order to regain trust and respect…and elevate America to where she once was as a country. Do we really want someone with a quick temper and itchy trigger finger in the White House given all the diplomatic issues and global economic turmoils facing the world?

Good judgment.

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Word has it Seth Meyers from SNL wrote the rap that Amy Poehler performed so perfectly on SNL on Oct. 18.

It’s just as funny this morning as it was last night.  You can watch the video by clicking here.

Lyrics:

One, two, three

My name is Sarah Palin and you all know me.
Vice presidential nominee of the GOP.
Gonna need your vote in the next election
Can I get a “what what” from the senior section?

McCain got experience, McCain got style
But don’t let him freak you out when he tries to smile,
Cuz that smile be creepy, but when I’m VP
All the leaders in the world gonna finally meet me.

How’s it go Eskimos?
“Eskimos.”
Tell me tell me what you know Eskimos.
“Eskimos.”
How you feel Eskimos?
“Ice cold.”
Tell me tell me what you feel Eskimos.
“Super cool!”

I’m not Jeremiah Wright, but tonight I’m the preacher.
I’ve got a bookish look and you’re all hot for teacher.
Todd looking fine on his snow machine,
So hot for each other, he’s a go between.
In Wasilla, we just chill baby – chilla
But when I see oil – “Drill baby, drilla”

My country tis of thee.
From my porch I can see
Russia and such

All the mavericks in the house put your hands up.
All the mavericks in the house put your hands up.
All the plumbers in the house pull your pants up.
All the plumbers in the house pull your pants up.

When I say Obama, you say Ayers.
“Obama. Ayers.”
“Obama. Ayers.”
I built me a bridge, it ain’t goin’ no where.
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh”

McCain and Palin, gonna put the nail in the coffin
Of the media elite.
“She likes red meat.”
Shoot a mutha humpin moose eight days of the week.

(gun fire)

Now you’re dead. Now you’re dead cuz I’m an animal
And I’m bigger than you!
Load up the shot gun, walk in the pub
Everybody party, we’re goin’ to hunt!

La la la la la la la laaaaaaa

(more gun fire)

Yo I’m Palin, I’m out!

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Change: Life Is All About It

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

-Alan Cohen, author

This weekend, as most go, flashed by in a blink. If someone invents a mechanism by which we could reduce the speed of life, I might just save up for it. When the leaves drop from the maples, ashes, and walnuts like miniature bombs falling to their target zone, you know it’s time to pack up the garden hose and flush out the water spigot. Autumn’s leaves will soon be winter’s sleet and snow and chilled air. It’s this change of seasons in Minnesota that makes life exciting.

Last evening during dinner our conversation ran from topic to topic just as naturally as those leaves, noted in the previous paragraph, fall to earth. We stopped for a long while on the subject of change and how welcoming – or unwelcoming – we each embrace the change that presents itself every day, week, month, and year. I’m not so much an agent of change – a catalyst eagerly turning to the next page before I’m only halfway through the current page (although I’ve certainly made changes – choices good and bad – that have resulted in the sea-change kind of moments that will live with me forever). I tend to make my best effort to slow down and enjoy the present moment and live life. I know whatever is to come – the surprises and the heartburn – will come. That page is going to turn itself, you know, and then we can write it or read it.

While I’m open to all forms of change, I also appreciate my comfort zones. Adults reach this point in life when we know what we can tolerate and what we just simply can’t put up with. Stupidity. Compulsion. Incompetence. Disregard for the innocent. Intent to cause harm. These are all on the “won’t tolerate” list. Naivete. Inexperience. Opposing ideals or beliefs. Differences in style, tastes, interests. These are all things we’ll tolerate because we know (and when I say “we” I mean the educated, the read, the informed and those of us who are actually interested in humanity as a whole) we’re not perfect or righteous and we live in a country that allows for differences as well as encourages learning about them.

So when we talked about embracing or avoiding change last night, it made me think. What would our lives be with no change at all. If time stopped for awhile and the world lived in a Bill Murray-esque Groundhogs Day movie – even if just for a week or two. Would we be delivered from that experience with a renewed appreciation and passion for change of the most common kind – having oatmeal for breakfast instead of toast for example? Would we strive to effect change in a way that we didn’t prior to the Groundshog Day experiment? Would we walk out the front door and into our neighborhood, city, state, and country with eyes wide open to all the troubles surrounding us and do something to make a difference?

We can’t assume anything. We can’t tell the future. But we can embrace the change life presents us – especially when it’s begging to happen and ultimately puts back on its axis our wobbling, out-of-whack microcosm in which we live.

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More from the Rolling Stone profile on Senator John McCain (see previous entry for link to the full article).

Over the years, John McCain has demonstrated a streak of anger so nasty that even his former flacks make no effort to spin it away. “If I tried to convince you he does not have a temper, you should hang up on me and ridicule me in print,” says Dan Schnur, who served as McCain’s press man during the 2000 campaign.

On the night he was elected senator in 1986, McCain exploded after discovering that the stage setup for his victory speech was too low; television viewers saw his head bobbing at the bottom of the screen, his chin frequently cropped from view. Enraged, McCain tracked down the young Republican who had set up the podium, prodding the volunteer in the chest while screaming that he was an “incompetent little shit.”

During his 1992 campaign, at the end of a long day, McCain’s wife, Cindy, mussed his receding hair and needled him playfully that he was “getting a little thin up there.” McCain blew his top, cutting his wife down: “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.”

In 1992, McCain got into a heated exchange with Sen. Chuck Grassley over the fate of missing American servicemen in Vietnam. “Are you calling me stupid?” Grassley demanded. “No, I’m calling you a fucking jerk!” yelled McCain. Sen. Bob Kerrey later told reporters that he feared McCain was “going to head-butt Grassley and drive the cartilage in his nose into his brain.” Several years later an elderly mother of an MIA soldier rolled up to McCain in her wheelchair to speak to him about her son’s case. According to witnesses, McCain grew enraged, raising his hand as if to strike her before pushing her wheelchair away.

McCain has called Paul Weyrich, who helped steer the Republican Party to the right, a “pompous self-serving son of a bitch” who “possesses the attributes of a Dickensian villain.” In 1999, he told Sen. Pete Domenici, the Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, that “only an asshole would put together a budget like this.”

Last year, after barging into a bipartisan meeting on immigration legislation and attempting to seize the reins, McCain was called out by fellow GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “Wait a second here,” Cornyn said. “I’ve been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You’re out of line.” McCain exploded: “Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone in the room.” The incident foreshadowed McCain’s 11th-hour theatrics in September, when he abruptly “suspended” his campaign and inserted himself into the Wall Street bailout debate at the last minute, just as congressional leaders were attempting to finalize a bipartisan agreement.

McCain’s GOP colleagues have gone on record to say that they consider him temperamentally unsuited to be commander in chief. Sen. Domenici of New Mexico has said he doesn’t “want this guy anywhere near a trigger.” And Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi weighed in that “the thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine.”

McCain’s frequently inappropriate humor has also led many to question his self-control. In 1998, the senator told a joke about President Clinton’s teenage daughter at a GOP fundraiser. “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?” McCain asked. “Because her father is Janet Reno!”

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Rolling Stone on John McCain

Telling, telling article in the Oct. 16 issue of Rolling Stone. I hope you’ll take time to read the profile piece on Senator McCain whether it moves you to vote for Senator Obama, or not, it’s worth reading.

Here’s an excerpt.

Indeed, many leading Republicans who once admired McCain see his recent contortions to appease the GOP base as the undoing of a maverick. “John McCain’s ambition overrode his basic character,” says Rita Hauser, who served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 2001 to 2004. But the truth of the matter is that ambition is John McCain’s basic character. Seen in the sweep of his seven-decade personal history, his pandering to the right is consistent with the only constant in his life: doing what’s best for himself. To put the matter squarely: John McCain is his own special interest.

“John has made a pact with the devil,” says Lincoln Chafee, the former GOP senator, who has been appalled at his one-time colleague’s readiness to sacrifice principle for power. Chafee and McCain were the only Republicans to vote against the Bush tax cuts. They locked arms in opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And they worked together in the “Gang of 14,” which blocked some of Bush’s worst judges from the federal bench.

“On all three — sadly, sadly, sadly — McCain has flip-flopped,” Chafee says. And forget all the “Country First” sloganeering, he adds. “McCain is putting himself first. He’s putting himself first in blinking neon lights.”

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