Friday, May 29, 2009

How Do You Like Your Pizza?

President Obama, Burger Lover

President Barack Obama has made one thing clear over the first four months of his presidency: he likes his burgers. I hear that. There's not a burger I've met I don't like. Like his foray to watch an NBA game a couple months ago, his frequent trips out of the big white house to grab food, not fancy food mind you, sends a message to the American people: he is one of us who just happens to be the most powerful person in the world. Today he went out to Five Guys, a DC hamburger chain which has spread like wildfire across the USA and a place I have been known to frequent. Good choice sir.

Of course many will recall the flap over his previous visit to a burger joint--Ray's Hell Burgers in DC. Many from the Rabid Right tried to make a nonsensical argument that the President was an elitist because he ordered his burger with mustard with a kick to it--dijon. I didn't post about it then but it has gnawed at me ever since. This has got to be one of the stupidest things I have heard in politics. Of course, it was an accusation made by Sean Hannity and his crowd so stupidity comes easy to them (this is not a partisan attack--this blog is fiercly anti-partisan--it's just an honest assessment of the brain power of Hannity, a rabid foaming-at-the-mouth partisan). I like dijon mustard so I must be an elitist too.

Anyway, I'm sure there will be those that complain that his stop at regular restaurants inconveniences the locals but the restaurants, and the locals that get to hang out with the Commander-in-Chief for a few minutes, probably don't mind. The President ordered American cheese on his burger, Sean, so give him props for that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Advice for a Supreme Court Nominee From a Former Chief of Staff

Ken Duberstein, President Ronald Reagan's last chief of staff and a supporter of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid, gives U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Sonya Sotomayor, some unsolicited advice on navigating the dangerous waters of the confirmation process.

  • Personal stories are compelling every time.

  • Begin your senatorial courtesy calls almost immediately.

  • Practice, practice, practice.

  • Be prepared for the kitchen sink at the hearings.

  • The Constitution stops at the foot of Capitol Hill.

  • Tell the truth, always.

  • Senators welcome mea culpas in your oral testimony.

  • Pause for seven seconds before you answer any question.

  • Have an answer for the one question you didn't want to be asked -- because you will undoubtedly be asked that question.

  • Senators usually depart when the cameras are turned off, but remember: The microphone will still be on.

  • Bonus: "You have the best lobbyist in the world at your disposal... the president of the United States, and a popular one at that. Use the president's influence judiciously -- but use it."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sutton's 'Cash for Clunkers' Bill Gaining Steam

U.S. Representative Betty Sutton (D-OH) has been pushing legislation that would give people vouchers as an incentive to trade in their old used vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient vehicles. The vouchers would be worth between $3500-$4500 depending upon the MPG differential of the cars exchanged in the transaction.

Sutton, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was successful a couple of weeks ago in having her legislation (H.R. 1550) be part of the larger climate change bill working its way through Congress. Now, she has decided to re-introduce the legislation back into the House as a stand-alone bill with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) following suit by sponsoring similar legislation in that body (S. 1135). According to a press release from Sutton's office, the bill is aimed at "helping consumers purchase more fuel efficient vehicles, helping boost sales of our domestic auto and related industries and helping our environment."

Sutton's leadership on this issue is important for her constituents and politically shrewd--the 13th Congressional District, which stretches from Barberton to Akron to Lorain, has many people and businesses directly dependent upon the American auto industry. Five of the top six industry contributor categories in her 2oo8 reelection campaign were unions and labor PACs composed a majority of her PAC contributions.

Here is a summary of the legislation (posted in the Plain Dealer's Open Blog):

Memorial Day 2009: American War Casualties Throughout History

Memorial Day is supposed to be a time for reflection. Many Americans have paid the ultimate price in their service to the nation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be the last, they are just the most recent. The following list includes only "major" wars--notice such recent conflicts such as the Panama War (1989) and Grenada (1982) are missing.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Email Listmania!

A great article from Politico detailing the various email lists mostly compiled after the 2008 election. Why care? These lists will be the mother's milk of fundraising for the nest couple of years.

1) Organizing for America
2) MoveOn
3) RNC
4) American Solutions for Winning the Future
5) Hillary Clinton/John McCain (Tie)

Honorable Mention:
-Team Sarah
-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
-American Family Association

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Presidential Humor and the White House Correspondents Dinner

This is perhaps my favorite annual presidential event. It is a way for the American public to see a different side of the Commander-in-Chief and a way for the President and White House correspondents to rub elbows.

President Barack Obama's performance was top notch:

Wanda Sykes did a nice job as the comedic act:

Sykes' performance was certainly less edgy, less bold, less cringe-worthy than Stephen Colbert's routine at the 2006 WHCA dinner with President George W. Bush at his side. Love it or hate it, Colbert's act was history-making and all comedic acts following will be better vetted to make sure that POTUS is not so directly in the bull's eye...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obama's Upcoming Notre Dame Commencement Speech an Outrage to Some

The Associated Press has a nice article about the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's upcoming commencement speech at Notre Dame University scheduled for May 17. The scheduled speech has outraged a number of people in the Roman Catholic community and over 350,000 people have signed an online petition to have Notre Dame rescind the invitation.

According to the AP: "The Cardinal Newman Society, an advocacy group for Catholic colleges that circulated the position, said the invitation violated a 2004 bishops' mandate that stated, 'The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.' One Catholic leader, Archbishop Raymond Burke, accused Obama of pushing an anti-life, anti-family agenda. Burke, the first American to lead the Vatican supreme court, said Friday it was 'a scandal' that Notre Dame had invited Obama to speak. Catholic activists and bishops have been outspoken in their criticism of Obama....They cite his support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, and his repeal of a policy that denied federal dollars to international relief organizations that provide abortions or abortion-related information. They remain angry with Obama's support for legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from interfering with a woman's right to obtain an abortion."

The fact is that conservative Catholics, such as those represented by the Cardinal Newman Society, are but just a part of a diverse Catholic community--a community that is the ultimate swing group in presidential elections. This is no doubt one reason why the Obama folks accepted Notre Dame's invitation. Obama won 54% of the Catholic vote in 2008--one of the many reasons why he won the presidency. Had Democrat John Kerry, a Catholic himself, won Catholics in 2004, he would have been the 44th president. As it so happened, Kerry was able to manage only 47% of the Catholic vote nationally and only 44% in Ohio, a state he lost by just over 100,000 votes and would have captured had he carried Ohio Catholics. Democrats understand that they must continue to make inroads with Catholic community to continue their recent electoral success.

From Rose Mary's Stretch to Larry's Wide Stance: Oh the Lame Excuses They Make

A great story in Politico about politicians and the lame stories they tell to cover their rear ends. Former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards is just the latest in a string of elected officials caught with their hands in the cookie jar or their pants down that spin incredulous tales in an effort to save their vaunted position, their reputation, or both. Scandal is certainly not a new phenomenon, as evidenced by William Blount's expulsion from the U.S. Senate in 1797; it's just that the information is easier to obtain these days and makes for repeated time on TV and stories on the Internet with the 24 hour news cycle.

What always amazes me is the incapacity of politicos to understand that the American public is quite forgiving, particularly if you confess your sins in a heartfelt, convincing manner. Of course, that depends on the sin, some of which are beyond public absolution.

So...if the kid is yours, Mr. Edwards, you might as well fess up now because it will come out sooner rather than later. Unlike in 1797, there are such things as paternity tests that will prove it one way or the other.

I leave you with this little gem from then-Senator John Edwards about President Bill Clinton at the height of the Monica Lewinsky debacle: "I think this President has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter. It is breathtaking to me the level to which that disrespect has risen." Gee, I guess ten years later that quote could apply to the quoted. What was that saying I remember about glass houses???

Friday, May 8, 2009

Congressional Aspirant Needs to Brush up on Geography or at Least Consult an Atlas

Republican California Assemblyman, Van Tran, announced his intention to challenge U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez in the 47th District. The announcement went off without a hitch, except for the little fact that the announcement did not occur in Sanchez's district but rather that of Dana Rohrbacher of the neighboring 46th. An aide to Tran "said Tran and his aides knew the location was outside the district, but went with it anyway because it’s only 'like a block out of Garden Grove' and because it’s a good, central location for the Vietnamese press.

Alrighty then. Apparently this crew doesn't care about little details such as where the district is. Not a good first step for a fledgling campaign against a well-known and well-financed incumbent like Sanchez.

Perhaps Mr. Tran and his team should consult with Miss Teen South Carolina on where to get a map of the 47th District:

Hat tip: Politicalwire.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Called Walking

CNN recently had a story that was one part maddening, one part embarrassing, and one part just lame. It was a segment dedicated to President Barack Obama's "swagga." Yes, that's swagga with an "a" not an "er." Hands down one of the lamest segments I've seen on television.

Apparently, the Commander-in-Chief has a "swagga"--a cool kind of walk only black men can pull off. Yes, they even compared the President to 70's cult hero Shaft. Despite the conversation between the anchors excruciatingly detailed in the video, the segment also included an interview with several leaders of the African American community who talked about Obama's swagga. And, this group enlightened me on something, apparently only black folk like to hug which explains why the President is so huggy. Of course, the group did not attempt to explain why the two previous presidents also liked to hug.

Not only was the segment lame in every sense of the word, it is irresponsible. For the first time America has an African American president--do we really need to compare him or his walk to Shaft and play into racial stereotypes that some Americans may still be grappling with?

After the segment (which sucked a few precious minutes out of our lives), my wife turned to me and summed up all we needed to know about the President's "swagga": "It's called walking."

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