Category Archives: current events

A can of electoral whoop-ass

Well, I did it.  I called the Board of Elections.

When I called the Board of Elections, the woman I spoke with was very very not happy about it.  Well, before I told her why I was calling, and simply said I wanted to voice a concern about something that happened at my polling place today, she assumed I was going to say something stupid, I think.  I imagine she’s handled a lot of weird stuff today.  She automatically said that any complaints need to be submitted in writing.  I said, well, let me just tell you what happened to me and you can tell me if the concern I have is legitimate and tell me what my next steps should be.

So I told the story and she was actually pretty pissed off that it happened.  She explained to me what he should have done (verbally tried to get my attention or knocking on the side of the booth) even though she also said by my story it didn’t sound like I was taking an inordinate amount of time in the booth.  She said she was going to bring up the issue to the board of commissioners just based on my verbal complaint, that that specific poll worker would definitely be talked to, and she apologized profusely that it happened.  I don’t really want the guy to get in trouble… but what he did was pretty wrong, it seems.  I’m glad I called it in.

An open letter from Colin Powell to the Republican party

Dear Sirs and a Madam or two:

There are many in the party who have expressed shock, outrage, disappointment, and feelings of betrayal over my decision to break with Party lines and endorse Senator Barack Obama.  Well, let me tell you, I can sympathize!

You see, a number of years ago, I was given some information and a vial of fake anthrax and asked to plead a case for war in front of the U.N.  I was somewhat dubious, but I was assured that the information and intelligence upon which I was making our plea was solid, and that this was a just and necessary war.  It turned out, you all were full of crap.  Years of war have proven that our primary reason for starting that trillion-dollar mess was based on unsubstantiated intelligence from questionable sources, and nary a weapon of mass destruction has been found.  Oh I know, some of you are claiming all the WMDs hauled ass into Syria, but you’re full of it.  We’ve got dozens of high-tech spy satellites with their eyes trained on that region; if any sort of mass shipment of weapons happened we would have seen it.

You used me.  You used my name and my good reputation in the world to make your case, and it blew up in all our faces.  To say I felt betrayed, disappointed, shocked and outraged is putting it mildly.  I wanted to drop a bus on you frigging people, since you so symbolically dropped one on me, on my good reputation, and on my honor as a soldier and a man.  I was a shining example of nonpartisanship, of leadership, of integrity.  Nearly overnight you made me into another worthless Bush lackey.  Not only that, but I had a pretty good shot at becoming the first black president.  And as a Republican!  It wasn’t something I actively aspired to, but I’ve dedicated my life to service to my country, and had the calls for me to run been compelling and resounding, I would have.  I would have run with honor and sincerity and honesty and I probably would have won, because I’m pretty moderate and cool and the American people frigging loved me.  Now people on the left lump me in as just another chump in the administration, and people on the right… well, some of you have just gone stark raving mad, and while you may like me I really don’t want to have much to do with you.

However, it would be unfair to say I endorsed Barack Obama out of spite.  I hope you know me enough to know that I’m bigger than that.  I mean, let’s just take a look at the guy — he’s got charm, and charisma, and brains, and if I were a woman I would be madly in love with him.  Heck, even as a guy I have a bit of a man-crush on the dude.  He’s a light in the fog these days in a country craving some leadership and calm in a storm of woes.  And it’s not like the guy the Republican party nominated makes me quiver with excitement.  Sure, I like him, the way you like that crazy uncle that mumbles conspiracy theories at Christmas dinner and tells off your grandpa for being a pinko commie who never understood him.

And of course there are the people who are already saying I’m backing him because he’s a brother.  Come on.  I’m the same color as George W. for chrissake, and Obama ain’t much darker.  But if there’s one thing about his outward appearance that sways me, it’s his ears.  I know they look pretty dorky but you know what?  He uses them for more than holding up a frigging cowboy hat.  He listens.  He seeks knowledge and advice and wisdom, and wants you to tell him what he doesn’t know.  That’s a drink of water in the desert, man, especially after so many years of the administration not giving a damn about what I might have to say, and then the American public mostly despising me for helping make the case for war.  Not only is this guy smart enough to take advice, but he’s so awesome and transformational that maybe he can help me regain at least a little of the respect and credibility I lost because of you.

It is certainly fair to say you didn’t exactly make it hard for me to choose which horse I wanted to back.  You eviscerated all the party loyalty I had when you threw my reputation under a bus to further your pet project in Iraq.  So, I may have sounded my own political death knell, but it was frigging worth it, you assholes.

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OK, so maybe Gen. Powell didn’t really write that.  But it’s certainly fun for me to imagine him thinking it.

Cover girls, June 2006

June 2006 was an interesting month for magazine covers. We saw this one:

Cosmo June 2006

Cosmo June 2006

Now as far as Cosmopolitan goes, this ain’t all that racy. But there’s definitely some boob, and those pants are very low riding. And not very long. And sorta see-through.
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Then, there was Harper’s Bazaar:
Harpers Bazaar June 2006

Harper's Bazaar June 2006

This wasn’t long before the trainwreck heard ’round the world. But she’s obviously pregnant. And obviously happy (or manic, as it were). And obviously, glaringly naked. I’m not quite sure how we’re managing not to see nipple on this, in all honesty.
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And this one:
People June 2006

People June 2006

There’s Angelina Jolie, gorgeous as always. And Brad Pitt, gorgeous as always. And a cute baby, who is destined to be either a gorgeous mega-superstar or a meth addict. Heck, maybe both. But back to the picture. It’s sweet, it’s innocent…. but what’s that?! You can sort of see Angelina’s bra straps… and that’s a NURSING BRA! Neat.
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Lastly, there was this one, which came out a couple months later:
babytalk June 2006

babytalk August 2006

Out of all these covers… this is the one I remember best. Not because the image is so incredibly striking, although there is definitely an intimacy to it that I like. I remember this cover the best because people went off the freakin’ deep end because of it. It was indecent, it was gross, it was offensive. This simple picture, of a baby doing what’s it’s supposed to do, sent people into hysterics. We can quibble over the square yardage, but really I don’t see much difference in the boobage exposed here vs. in the Britney cover. Now, I know there are lots of people around who’d gouge their own eyes out with a knitting needle if they happened to witness the abhorrence that is breastfeeding in public. I really don’t get it, but whatever. But man, did this cover make those people ooze out of the woodwork to vociferously vocalize their objection and disdain of this cover. It simply blew my mind.
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All this comes to mind because the new issue of “W” magazine is supposed to feature pictures of Angelina Jolie taken by Brad Pitt, and at least one of the pictures is of her nursing at least one of her twins. I was reading an AP article that recalled her nursing bra strap showing picture on the People cover and how it “caused a stir”. I know it fueled a few conversations, as I was privy to at least a couple of them, but a stir? Really? Over a bra strap? Isn’t “causing a stir” like causing a controversy? Was her bra strap, and her implicit endorsement of breastfeeding really controversial, given that every health agency from here to China advocates breastfeeding as the best way to feed a baby? Anyway, I digress. “W” is coming out with Angelina breastfeeding on the cover, and I’m very curious to see what the reaction will be. Will she be labeled a “lactivist” who wants to shove her breastfeeding in everyone’s face… or is that label only saved for us more normal, homely looking moms? Will she be lauded for being so open about breastfeeding, and praised for her open advocacy? Will my blog get more and more hits for people searching for husbands breastfeeding? I’m guessing all of the above. One thing certainly accomplished — I’d never heard of “W” magazine before reading the article on CNN.

Trifecta of crappitude

Today is one of those days, where like the planets align to put you in a shit mood.

I’m on the tail-end of what is my fifth menstrual cycle in five years.  Pregnancy & breastfeeding is pretty good for holding Aunt Flo at bay.  But man, once she weasels her way back into your life she smacks you upside the head and kicks your ass.

I’m sick.  Not sick enough to be bedridden, but enough that I’m in a fog and I’m a lung cookie factory.

Today is also the tenth anniversary of my mom’s death.  So I can’t help but participate in the reflection that such an anniversary propagates, and it’s not exactly a mood enhancer.

Luckily my life’s not completely in the toilet (even if between the lung cookies and the hygiene needs I feel like I’m in the bathroom more than I’m not).  This week is the week I do my once-quarterly consulting work for my old company, so I’ve got stuff to keep me busy and the kids are spending a bunch of time at their grandparents’, so it’s been relatively calm and quiet this week.  Plus the consulting work means I get a sweet little paycheck in a couple weeks, which I’m tempted to deposit completely in my IRA and go on a stock spending spree.  The account in general may be in the shitter but there are some SWEET deals to be had on Wall Street right now.  This in general is conducive to optimism.  And of course the whole how-lucky-I-am facts around having a great husband and awesome kids.  As much as situations are conspiring to try to make me have a shitty day, it’s hard to stay down for long.  That’s definitely saying something, right?

Multitasking: It’s kind of a big deal

It looks like John McCain is bailing out of the first presidential primary tomorrow. I find this really disappointing; I LOVE presidential debates.

His reasoning is the economic crisis and all the work that needs to be done on his part to see the country through this hard time. Noble on the surface, but is it, really? He sits on a couple relevant committees and subcommittees in the Senate, but it’s not like they’re twiddling their thumbs waiting for him to gallop in on his noble steed to save the day. The way I see it, the main thing he needs to do is vote on stuff. He’s not in a position to be crafting the terms of the bailout packages or anything like that. Is he? Maybe I’m wrong about that.

McCain just seems to me to be pretty poor at multitasking. He makes a point of only scheduling one campaign stop a day. And now, he can’t take the time to prepare for a debate because of this current ‘crisis’? (I’m a bit dubious of the word ‘crisis’ as applied to the current situation. Oh, it’s not good, I agree wholeheartedly. And granted I don’t understand and am making no attempt to understand the nuanced effect that these government takeovers could have on the market as a whole. But I just don’t see how McCain playing hooky from the debate tomorrow is suddenly going to make rainbows and daisies out of the current situation.) Regardless, I see the presidential debates as like the pinnacle of the election process, the most important steps. Does McCain really want to be president? Or does he want to pretend to act Presidential by hiding in D.C.? It would be really impressive that if he’s going to do something to save us all from this corporate greed, that he could accomplish it AND show up to the debate to tell us all about it. I’d hate to see him have to try to handle two important things at once as president. “Sorry, Iran, you’re just going to have to wait a minute even though you’ve just rolled a nuclear weapon into your main square — we just got hit with a giant earthquake here. Can I pencil you in for next Tuesday? Will that work for you, crazy Iranian people? Swell. Thanks!”

The truth is, I really think he’s using AIG as the dog who ate his homework. We’ve spent the last few weeks watching Sarah Palin being kept under tight wraps from all first-hand media scrutiny (except of course for Charlie Gibson nailing her, that was funny — and damn, how annoying was it the way she said “Charlie”?). I’m not even going to get started on how pot-calling-kettle-black sexist that is of the McCain camp. Can’t they trust this woman to stand her own ground and handle the tough questions, even if it’s to issue her own personal “no comment”s? But now, John McCain is just throwing himself into the media black hole. In his first chance to face off with Obama on national TV, he’s bailing?? That seems so weird. And it’s not like I’m salivating because I think Obama is going to trounce him in the debates; I think McCain is probably going to prove to be a more effective debater than Obama in many respects. Mostly, because he’s a sound bite sort of guy and the American populace doesn’t seem capable of absorbing much more than neatly-packaged sound bites. But since the debates might very well be his forte, why bail? Why not use the forum to share your thoughts on the economy and other matters with the American people? It just smells like a three-day-old fish to me.

Or, maybe he’s just at a point in the campaign where he’s feeling like he’s not quite confident enough to quit his day job. 🙂

Does executive experience make a good president? The results!

I spent many an evening compiling all my results. All the links for all the individual detailed presidential analysis are here.

Now I acknowledge before I go any further that this exercise was purely subjective. If a hundred people did the same thing I did, they numbers would turn out a hundred different ways. Different presidents would be good, or not good, and the presidents’ experience could be counted as “executive” in ways I didn’t consider or excluded. This isn’t fact, it’s simply my opinion. My overtired, worn-out, bleeding-heart liberal (but fiscally somewhat conservative) opinion. I also want to thank the internet, without which I could never have put this together. Specifically, Wikipedia and all the relevant cited sources in each president’s article, and the excellent essays of the Miller Center of Public Affairs were especially helpful.

To review and sum up, I wanted to look at each president and see if their “executive experience” was a strong predictor of their success as president … or if their lack of executive experience was a predictor of a poor presidency. I had a null hypothesis — that being that more presidents that had executive experience (or lacked it) would be good presidents (or not good, if they didn’t have executive experience). The alternative hypothesis would be non-expected results… more presidents who didn’t have executive experience being good presidents (or with executive experience being bad presidents). I decided “executive experience” would be someone who’d served in the executive branch as a governor, but not vice president. A general in the armed forces counted, as did entrepreneurial experience by running a company, or presiding over a college. I went president by president, summing up their experience and whether history has shown them to be a good president.

There were three presidents who I didn’t score because of the brevity of their term, and Grover Cleveland only got scored once, even though he served two non-successive terms. What that means is though there were 43 presidents so far, I’ve only got 39 actual presidencies represented here on out.

I ended up with a pretty even match-up — 21 good presidents and 18 not-good presidents. There were also 24 with executive experience and 15 without executive experience. You get a matrix that looks like this:

When it comes to the null and alternative hypothesis… well, things start getting interesting. Out of 39 presidencies, ones where either a good president had executive experience or a bad president didn’t have it, 16, or 41% of presidents, met the null hypothesis. That means 23, or about 59% of presidents, met the alternative hypothesis. If executive experience were a good predictor of success as a president, I’d expect the percentage of presidencies meeting the null hypothesis at LEAST over 50%… and we didn’t even get there! A very safe conclusion from these numbers is that executive experience is simply NOT a strong predictor of success as a president. If my statistical analysis skills weren’t so rusty, and if I had Excel on this laptop and not just MS Works (which is basically good for making a grocery list and not much else) I could attempt to slap some real statistics on this, but I frankly don’t have the energy and the numbers mostly speak for themselves anyway, in my opinion. If anyone WOULD like to work out some statistical conclusions, be my guest! I’d be happy to supply my original spreadsheet and anything else you may need.

Take a look at that 2×2 matrix by rows, focusing on the “executive experience” or “no executive experience” categorization. I’d say that based on this, if someone comes into office with executive experience, it’s basically a crap shoot whether or not they will be a good president. Without executive experience, however, odds are 2:1 that they WILL be a good president. I guess this is promising for both Obama and McCain, since neither have the executive experience the GOP is claiming makes Palin soooooo “qualified”. It would be interesting to do a multi-categorical analysis of all the presidents, looking at a number of factors to determine which factors were most predictive of presidential success. Maybe it’s a long congressional service. Or geography. Or education. Or personality traits. Or some combination therein. Or some other factor I am not thinking of.

Some interesting observations:

  • The largest of the four categories in the 2×2 is the category of presidents who had executive experience but were not good presidents. I don’t think with a proper statistical analysis that this category would stand out as significant in and of itself, but it just is interesting to look at and ponder.
  • Some of the most highly regarded “good” presidents were in the “no executive experience” category — Lincoln, Kennedy, and Truman stand out. So it’s not like the presidents with executive experience were all the really great presidents and the ones without were just OK.
  • Three of the most consistently ranked worst presidents — Pierce, Harding, and Buchanan — had no executive experience before entering office. So, while executive experience doesn’t mean any sort of guarantee of success, perhaps it at least helps ensure that a president isn’t going to be horribly, tremendously, stupendously awful.

In summary, I believe this executive experience talk is hogwash, and Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani and all the other Republiclones need to just shut their pieholes about it. Unless what they’re trying to say is “Hey, at least if Sarah Palin becomes president, she won’t be as terrible as Warren G. Harding.” (Wow, that would be a great campaign slogan!)

VPs for your consideration

I’d said it to my husband before either VP pick was made: for me, the VP pick is so much more important for this election.  McCain’s 72 with a history of melanoma, so while he certainly seems healthy and carts his 90+ year-old mother around the country with him to convince others of his longevity (even though his dad died when he was like 69 or something like that), the chance of his VP needing to step in is a very real possibility.  I think the same goes for Obama.  I hate to even think about it, or feel like I need to think about it, but he’s African-American and there are a lot of very hateful people in this country.  It wouldn’t shock me if he were the subject of a greater-than-average assassination attempt rate.

I do hope as folks, especially undecided folks, consider the choices this fall, that they will really consider the VPs, also.  Their viewpoints, their experience, their politics, their integrity.  Maybe you like Sarah Palin better, or maybe you think Joe Biden holds the advantage.  Either way, whoever wins, I think we stand a more-than-minuscule chance of seeing one of these VPs needing to step in for the President, and maybe not too far into the future.  I hope, if you’re undecided, you’ll watch that VP debate with great interest this election; I feel like it’s a much more significant part of the choice for this race than it has been in the past few elections.