Wednesday, August 16, 2006

George Allen is a boob

Sen. George Allen, a Republican from Virginia and also that state's former governor, is hoping to be the next president of the United States. But firs, he must get re-elected to the Senate this year, and the campaign to do so is making him look like he just might inherit the mantle of "Biggest Dummy" from another George we all know.

Last weekend, Sen. Allen used a racial epithet to refer to a young man who was videotaping him at a campaign appearance. The young man, of Indian descent, was working for the campaign of Democrat James Webb, Allen's opponent, and was following and taping Allen -- a common campaign practice. Allen referred to the young man as "macaca," which has varying definitions from a monkey to a slur against African Americans. In any case, it sure is not a nice term, and the excuse from the Allen campaign is that the senator thought he was using the term for the young man's hair -- a mohawk or mullet. Right.

Read Slates's analysis here.

If you want to watch the video for yourself, check out YouTube as well.

The sad part is that Rob Corrdery of "The Daily Show" had it right on that show's bit: It is not clear whether this incident will help or hurt Allen in Virginia or around the country.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sweet Jesus!

OK need a goood chuckle? Check out the Jesus of the Week Web site. Each week, a new item related to the savior gets posted. Most of the items are from some sort of commercial venture. What would Jesus say? I bet he would laugh.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Summer on screen and stage

"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels": I saw this new stage musical at The Paramount theater in Seattle on Sunday night, thanks to a free ticket from a friend of a friend. I had planned to attend the show this week anyway, so this was a nice bonus -- and the seats were pretty good as well if a bit further back that I usually like to sit. The show was fun and the plot moved along at a nice pace, but the second act started slow, and some of the elements were distracting. I liked the cast, and some of the numbers were hilarious. My friend spied some of the show's creative team in the lobby as we were exiting, and she tossed out a few compliments. She is always so good at picking out people like that. I would have walked right on by without kknowing a thing. She figured that they bigwigs were in the audience to see the tour's kickoff. Perhaps that is why so much of the house was "papered" -- to create a good audience.

"Little Miss Sunshine": I really enjoyed this movie, after waiting months from seeing the preview. The premise is sweet, the acting is wonderful, but the plot stumbles a bit toward the ending. It was not bad enough to ruin the entire movie for me, but I think perhaps I had built it up in my mind so that it would be very heart-warming, but it turned out to be just OK. Recommendation: Matinee.

"John Tucker Must Die": OK I admit this film interested me because it looked completely cheesy and fun. Turns out, it had a nice plot and a smart script. From the clever opening where I laughed out loud to the plausible resolution, this movie kept me interested all along. I mean, of course it was filled with teen angst and super cute girls and boys who are actually 25 and not teens, but it also had some substance. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. Recommendation: Full price.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

A fork in the road for the Dems

Tuesday's primary election in Connecticut, which ousted three-term Senator Joe Lieberman, has been analyzed endlessly on the cable shout shows over the last couple days. But the real questions are whether this primary means that Democrat (and possibly all) voters are fed up with pro-war incumbents and will kick them out when given the opportunoty or whether the Democrats are doomed to repeat a previous mistake and allow the left flank of the party to dominate over an issue that may have been necessary for moderates to support. The war issue, which has been central in the debate since 2003, is poised to become even more troublesome for Democrat candidates who seek the presidential nomination in 2008. Most notable is Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has been an outspoken supporter of the war and a deliberate moderate.

Slate has a great and thoughtful analysis of the situation. The article states that Democrats have been at this crossroads before, and the Demos suffered politically for decades as a result.
The Lamont-Lieberman battle was filled with echoes and parallels from the Vietnam era. Democratic reformers and anti-establishment insurgents weren't wrong about that conflict, either. Vietnam was a terrible mistake for the United States. But like Iraq, Vietnam was a badly chosen battlefield in a larger conflict with totalitarianism that America had no choice but to pursue. In turning viciously on stalwarts of the Cold War era like Lyndon B. Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, and Scoop Jackson, anti-war insurgents called into question the Democratic Party's underlying commitment to challenging Communist expansion. The party's Vietnam-era drift away from issues of security and defense—and its association with a radical left hostile to the military and neutral in the fight between liberalism and communism—helped push a lot of Americans who didn't much like the Vietnam War into the arms of Richard Nixon.

On the other hand, some could argue that the ouster of Lieberman -- and of Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney -- means Democrats have finally grown a backbone and are willing to toss out an incumbent with whom they are dissatisfied in exchange for a candidate they feel they deserve. In 2004, Democratic primary voters flirted with a very desirable candidate, Howard Dean, but ended up with what many considered the more stable, more electable candidate, John Kerry. Perhaps in 2006 and 2008 voters are now fed up and will vote for the candidate of conscience. Of course, they may just be self-destructing as in years past.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman, McKinney lose primary races

Sen. Joe Lieberman has lost the Democratic primary to retain his Senate seat in Connecticut, although he vows he will file to run as an independent. The deadline to do that is tomorrow.

Cynthia McKinney, a Georgia congresswoman who had a much-publicized run-in with Capitol police earlier this year, has lost a run-off Democratic primary.

What do these losses mean for the Democrats and for the elections this year? It's not clear in the hours immediately following the closure of the polls. The McKinney situation is pretty clear: She's done. Her opponent will be the Democrat to run. For Lieberman, assuming he has gathered the thousands of necessary signatures for an independent run, the race continues. However, he will have to do it without the DNC money and without the support of many of his Democrat colleagues. Many of them vowed to support the winner of the primary -- as they should -- and the Democrats would be wise to not allow internal partisan differences consume or divide them.

So, Lieberman, the party's number-two in 2000, is forced to campaign to the middle -- a place where he has long been more comfortable anyway. Perhaps this will free him up to court those moderate voters who might have been reluctant to support a Democrat anyway. That race might also place the Democrats' chances for regaining the Senate in jeopardy. With a party split and one running as an independent it seems possible that the third candidate, in this case a Republican, could move in for a slim victory by plurality. George H. W. Bush and Al Gore know all about how that works.

I guess I cannot state enough how interesting this year's races have shaped up. Man, it will be a fun few months until Election Day.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Congressional elections heat up

This mid-term Congressional elections have heated up in the late summer, and it has been exciting to see the next twist in an election year where nothing short of control of one or both chambers of Congress. The public opinion of Congress, including people's opinions of their own representative, is at the lowest point since 1994, the landmark year when both houses of Congress changed control. Some interesting races:

OHIO: Rep. Bob Ney, seeking a seventh term, dropped out of the race, citing an increase in pressures on his family as criticism mounted for his involvement in the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal. Ney has not been indicted but he has been identified as the congressman listed in several accounts filed by the prosecutors. He won the Republican primary recently. [ CNN report ]

GEORGIA: Cynthia McKinney is in a tough re-election battle. A run-off election will see who gets to be the Democrat candidate, since McKinney failed to acquire 50 percent of the vote earlier. She made headlines earlier this year when she was involved in an altercation with a Capitol police officer. She later apologized and was not charged. The issue appears to be her own behavior.

TEXAS: State Republican leaders have abandoned their effort to replace Tom DeLay on the ballot. DeLay had already won a March primary when he resigned from Congress in June. Democrats said he should remain on the ballot, obviously hoping that his name no longer would mean as much under indictment and after a resignation. Will the man who resigned get re-elected, or will he launch a write-in campaign for a fellow Republican? [ CNN Report ]

CNN also has a rundown on some other races as well.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Lieberman on the ropes

The three-term veteran Democrat Senator from Connecticut and the 2000 vice presidential nominee is on the ropes today as his state's voters go to the polls in a primary to decide whether to keep Joe Lieberman or to switch to Ned Lamont, a Democrat businessman with no political experience. Recent polls had Lamont up a few points over Lieberman, who vowed to run as an independent if he loses the Democrat primary. [ ABC News report ] [ CNN report ]

Although the poll had Lamont with 51 percent to Lieberman's 45 percent of likely Democrat voters, 45 percent of all Connecticut voters say they are unaffiliated with a political party. That bodes well for Lieberman, who could make a good run as an independent even if he does lose the primary.

The big scandal on the morning of the election was about the Lieberman campaign Web site, which the Lieberman folks say was hacked and forced to shut down, replaced by a page that said the site had not been paid for. They, of course, claimed foul play and accused the Lamont folks of dirty political tricks.

Here's a nice satire of the whole thing from Wonkette.

By the end of the day, it could be a whole new race, or it could all be over for Lamont, and Lieberman will be almost assured of re-election in one of the nation's most liberal states.

-- Wenatchee, Wash.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Shame on the GOP Congress

For a decade, the federal minimum wage has lingered down at $5.15. States with no minimum wage have to comply with the federal law. In some states, the state sets a higher wage, and in Washington right now that is $7.63. It started climbing a few years ago when voters approved an annual hike based on the increase in the consumer price index. Now, Washington's is the highest in the nation.

The summer session of Congress has seen a lot of movement on the minimum wage. Some of this has to do with the Democrat Party deciding in many states to help boost voter turnout by placing on the ballot initiatives that would increase the state minimum wage. This isssue is red meat for blue voters. Now, perhaps hoping to blunt these Democrat efforts, the GOP Congress has pushed a minimum wage vote. But the catch is that it is tied to a huge tax cut for the super-wealthy. Republicans who vote for the bill would get to go home for Labor Day campaigning able to brag about both increasing the minimum wage and cutting taxes for small business owners, while Democrats might be forced to vote down one of their favorite issues. For a decade, lawmakers have squelched an increase in the minimum wage while increasing their own pay seven times.

It's shameful.

It doesn't take an idiot to figure out that it is darn near impossible to live on $5.15 per hour and one full-time job these days. And, we all know the Congress has passed plenty of tax cuts in the last five years, and President Bush has signed them all. All of them.

Here is a bit of propaganda from the Democrat Party:
So here's the question that the right-wing extremists who control the Republican Congress will put before the Senate:

"Over seven million Americans can have a raise of $2.15 an hour by raising the minimum wage, but only if we give a tax cut to 7,500 ultra-rich people at a cost of $753 billion dollars."

It's despicable, it's wrong, and we need to stop it.

Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist has said that this will be the only vote he will allow on a minimum wage increase this year.

Enough is enough. Contact your Senators and tell them to reject this shameful bill by signing this petition:


P.S. -- Here are some simple facts that can't be ignored:

  • Someone working full-time for the $5.15 federal minimum wage makes just $10,700 a year. A single mom with two kids who works full-time for the minimum wage is about $6,000 below the poverty line.
  • The federal minimum wage has been stuck at the same rate since 1997. Since then, Republican leaders have raised the salaries of Senators seven times. Salaries of lawmakers have gone up by $35,000 -- almost three times the entire yearly income of someone on minimum wage.
  • The real value of the minimum wage is more than $3.00 below what it was a generation ago, and right now has its lowest buying power in over 50 years.
  • The minimum wage is the lowest it has been in over 50 years relative to the average wage.
  • Raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour adds up to more than one year of groceries, over 9 months of rent, a year and a half of heat and electricity, or full tuition for a community college degree.
Please do what you can to help call attention to this vitally important issue.

The world's richest and most powerful country must do better.
That last section says to please do what you can to call attention to this issue. Simply put, it is among the most important issues before us today -- what we do for the workers of America to help people live a comfortable life is essential. That is what the Democratic Party has stood for since the 19th Century, and it is what the Democratic Party must continue to stand for today.

This is what I can do. What can you do?

-- Ellensburg, Wash.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Watch for falling bats!

Bats falling from the skies? Believe it. Like all mammals, bats are vulnerable in the heat. The weather has become so hot in California that the younger bats are being pushed aside by older and stronger bats who want to make more room in the heat.

The Weather Channel has an interesting video. I got this tip from the Poynter Institute's feature called Al's Morning Meeting, which has story ideas for journalists.

-- Ellensburg, Wash.

Yes, it sucks

I read this delightful little essay about the power and beauty of the word "sucks." It's from Slate, of course.

A lot of people are offended that the word, which has origins with an oral sex act, is used so commonly and widely today. Doesn't bother me, though. I also really enjoy learning about the history of a word and how the usage has evolved.

So, this is worth a read, at least the first half. Check it out.

-- Ellensburg, Wash.