Friday, August 29, 2008

Barack the Vote

I don't know how many of you caught Barack Obama's acceptance speech last night at the DNC, but if you missed it, you missed out. It was a perfectly crafted address that touched on every important issue of the upcoming election. If you didn't know where Obama stood before last night, listen to his 45 minute speech and you will. And, if his words don't move you to want to make a difference in our country, check your pulse.

He spoke on everything from healthcare reform and the Iraq War to gay marriage and abortion. A few highlights of his viewpoints and his promises to America include: cutting taxes for 95% of the middle-class, while taking away tax cuts for corporations that send jobs oversees; cutting capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-up business; ending our dependence on foreign oil in 10 years and tapping into our natural gas reserves, investing in technology for clean-burning coal and renewable energy, and the safe use of nuclear power; investing in early childhood education, raising teachers' salaries, and in exchange, asking for higher standards and more accountability; ensuring healthcare for all Americans is available and affordable, including lowering premiums for those with health insurance and giving the same quality healthcare that Congress has given to itself; getting our troops out of Iraq in a timely and safe manner; realizing that gun ownership means different things to different Americans, but keeping AK-47's out of the hands of criminals should be able to be accomplished without trampling the Second Amendment; believing that gays and lesbians should have the same rights as a heterosexual couple, free from discrimination; equal pay for men and women; giving women the option of a right to choose.

I have to say, I agree with 99% of his points of view. I think he is the most promising candidate we've had for the Democratic Party since Clinton.

He took some hard jabs a John McCain too:

"John McCain has voted with George Bush 90% of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90% of the time? I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10% chance on change."

…John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell - but he won't even go to the cave where he lives."

…Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a healthcare plan that would actually tax people's benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize social security and gamble your retirement?

It's not because John McCain doesn't care. It's because John McCain doesn't get it."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Speedtables and You

I was recently informed by a pal of mine in Fayetteville that residents in my former hometown are about to face the daunting task of choosing from SIX mayoral candidates this November. Sweet. So, since I'm not up on my local politics in NWA, I scoured the local paper for a really good article addressing just how wholly-qualified these candidates are for such a prestigious office. This is just a juicy tidbit of your selections, not all six are listed here. You sure are lucky, Fayetteville. I'm ├╝ber-jealous.

Excerpt from Northwest Arkansas Times column "GRIDLOCK GURU: Speed table question for candidates", dated July 11, 2008

"Question [to the Guru]: “I have been sacrificing vehicle, body and cargo to stupid speed tables. Who authorized them? Were they voted on by the City Council and, if so, what was the meeting date? Have any of the candidates for mayor taken a position on the tables?”

I can absolutely attest to the absurdity of the speed table issue in Fayetteville. Luckily, the roves of Hell's Angels on their Harley's rolling through Wilson Park looking for live young to devour are no longer a nuisance...thank you Mayor Coody, for keeping our children safe.

Answer: The Guru pored over a 230-page traffic and transportation study approved by the Fayetteville City Council on Dec. 16, 2003. It mentioned speed tables as a way to slow drivers on residential streets. The consultant who did the study later developed a city traffic calming policy, and the first speed table was plopped on Fieldstone Avenue in 2005. Now, Fayetteville has 50 speed tables.

At residents’ requests, a traffic-calming committee evaluates which streets need speed tables. The committee reviews speed, accidents, traffic volumes, sidewalk locations and the proximity of school crosswalks to decide which streets get tables.

And, who is on this so-called traffic-calming committee? A stay-at-home mom with 5 kids ranging in age from 6 months to 5 years, that has nothing better to do than make everyone else accommodate her, every retiree within a 20-block radius of the epicenter of downtown, the Bridge club (after their monthly meeting at Mermaids…priorities), and Bill Underwood.

Of course, a traffic-calming committee is always at the pinnacle of what the community really, really needs. This year's candidates should not exclude other possible committees, such as the trashcan-too-close-to-the-street committee, pedestrians-yielding-to-other-pedestrians-on-the-left-instead-of-the-right-side-of-the-sidewalk committee or curb-your-pet-or-I'll-sic-my-pit bull-on-it committee. All viable and important issues.

Mayor candidates Steve Clark and Lioneld Jordan said they like speed tables. Jordan offers one caveat: He dislikes speed tables that force drivers to dip below the speed limit to cross them without being jarred.

Is the City going to pay for the new shocks I'll be putting on my car every 6 weeks because of the f***ing speed tables? Oh, you're broke…right, I forgot. Oh, you're raising the sales tax again…oh yeah, that's a good idea. Wait, we may need to form a committee…the how-much-can-the-city-break-it-off-in-me committee…catchy.

Candidate Walt Eilers said he worries because fire trucks and police cars must slow to cross speed tables. “We need to rethink speed tables through the Council of Neighborhoods — their impact as a speed moderator or merely a nuisance,” Eilers writes.

This is a legitimate argument. I've often wondered about this very thing. One point for Walt…you came screaming to the top like a bullet. I have nothing to say about his point of view…strange, I know.

Adam Fire Cat, the real name of a mayoral candidate, said he won’t oppose speed tables in neighborhoods although he dislikes them. “If they can all agree, it’s fine,” Cat said. “I understand their purpose, but I think they are annoying.”

Dude, I would vote for you on sheer name alone. Not really, but rock the name. I'm glad Fire Cat knows the purpose of a SPEED TABLE. You have all the makings of an electable candidate. Utterly pointless ideas. And, you seem like a riding-the-fence kind of guy. Not for them or against them. You're the "go ask your mother" kind of dad. I have a feeling you're probably still asking yourself if a dime bag will be enough for a 3-day weekend. Next.

Mayor Dan Coody, who announced Thursday that he will seek a third term, thinks speed tables are a good idea, but the city has too many. “Any good thing can be overdone and this is an example of it,” he said.

Are you kidding me, Dan? You approved every one of those damned speed tables in their respectively-annoying locations. Stop the posturing and stand the f*** up. Dude, I would vote for Fire Cat before I'd cast another one in your direction. Your derisory handling of the $60 million cost overrun sewer project should have been the nail in your political coffin. NEXT.

Let's form a committee on term limits…seriously. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Excerpts from Hillary Clinton's Address

Giving party members the business:

"Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines. … I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women’s rights at home and around the world … to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people."

"Before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president. We don’t have a moment to lose or a vote to spare. Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance."

Democratic National Convention: Part II

Michelle Obama's speech Monday night should have been one of inspiration, but the only thing she really inspired me to do was wonder what the hell her point was, other than she loves her husband. Duh. This is not about you, it's about Barack. I am a full supporter of Barack Obama and I think Michelle is a force to be reckoned with, but come on with the "I love my husband, I love my country." You're supposed to love your husband and your country, especially if your beloved husband is running for the most powerful office in the free world. I thought her speech was generic and boring. I found myself drifting away thinking about what was going to wear the next day or how many days I had before I had to do laundry again. Not very riveting.

Hillary Clinton's speech last night, on the other hand, was phenomenal. I think she hit this one way out of the park. I was a stanch supporter of Hillary's during the first months leading up to the primary, but as time wore on her campaign began a negative downturn that turned me way off. I don't like negative campaigns at all. I think they're pointless and steer the people on the wrong direction. While Barack's campaign absolutely responded to the negativity, I don't think they ever initiated it. Notwithstanding the past rivalry of Barack and Hillary, her message was clear last night: Unite the Party. And, to make certain that McCain is not the next King George..."No way, no how, no McCain!" She friggin nailed it! Behind the scenes, the Obama/Hillary camps may not get along as well as they may want the rest of us to believe, but her sincerity to unite the party and get behind Barack was clear. I believe Hillary will be back in 2012, guns blazing. Bring it, sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Democratic National Convention: Part I

To those of you that don't know me very well, I love politics. I love the sport, the commentary, the rivalries, the debates and the absolute absurdity of the posturing and spectacle. None of which compare to the National Convention held every 4 years about 9-10 weeks prior to a presidential election. I, for one, am a registered Democrat. There were few of us left in Arkansas when I lived there, and I suspect even fewer live in Texas. When I moved to Texas and registered to vote, I thought of registering Independent, but alas I held true to my Democratic point of view and checked the box. Yes, I have not gotten a Texas driver's license, Texas car registration, or a permenant Texas address, but, dammit, I can vote here! I think me and a couple of other people are the only ones that actually voted for Obama in the Arkansas Primaries. Anyway, I'm getting off subject, our convention starts tonight and runs through Thursday. Sweet. I plan on having my TV affixed to CNN for the duration of this evening's events and then listen to the talking heads about their predictions/criticisms. Oh, how I wish NPR were on TV sometimes. That kind of liberal media bias is just my cup of tea. I know, I shouldn't be 28…more like 48. I am constantly mocked by my nearest and dearest for keeping my radio in my car tuned to NPR about 95% of the time. I'm a big nerd, I get it. But, this kind of revelry held for one of the nation's most powerful political figures, and possibly the next POTUS, intrigues me to no end.

Tonight promises to be quite an event, with a lineup of speakers ranging from Margie Perez, a New Orleans jazz singer, to Michelle Obama (whom I love), the keynote speaker for tonight's convention. Tomorrow night, Hillary Clinton is the primetime speaker and I am looking forward to her remarks, but I sometimes feel she doesn't have a clear message and you can't really tell unless you're listening intently. This is what makes her an excellent politician. Play both sides without anyone noticing.

Also, I must say that I think Joe Biden was an excellent pick to be Obama's VP. I really liked Biden before he dropped out for a less than stellar showing in the primaries, but I think his strong background in foreign relations and his years of experience will only help Obama reach the undecideds because of Obama's lack of experience on foreign issues. However, Obama's message is change and Biden has been a heavy hitter in Washington for many years. This may undercut his message. At any rate, it's a good match overall.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Instant gratification does not exist within me...

I am a victim of instant gratification syndrome. I hate hate hate waiting. I am nortoriously impatient with anyone except small children, and even they should know better sometimes. So, as it were, my patience is being tested every moment I am traveling in this city. I live about 11 miles from the train station, wherein I get on the train for 40 minutes to go downtown to my office. Meaning, I have to leave the house at like 7:15-7:30 to make it to work on time at 9:00. The ride downtown on the train is not so bad. I sit there, sip my Starbuck's, read the paper or my book and just chill. It's actually starting to grow on me a little...but not much and very slowly. However, driving to said train station at 7:30 in the morning is BRUTAL. It's ELEVEN MILES and it takes 30 minutes! Are you friggin kidding me with this sh**!?!? Get your tired, mascara-applying, greasy sausage biscuit-eating, cell phone-chatting, no driving a** off the effing highway! I would probably have better luck taking the access roads as oppossed to 75 S, but this idea makes me a little uneasy. You just never know which route will take longer.

So, after 4 days of raising my chances tenfold of having a heart attack at the ripe old age 28, I decided to drive to work. Bad idea. I left at 7:30 and arrive in the parking lot about a block from my office at 8:45! UGH! By the way, it's about 30 miles or so...yeah. Of course, this was no ordinary day. It was raining off and on all the way to work. I was traveling down 75 S and I've heard that Texans can't really drive in the rain. This is oh so very true. Foolishly, I thought the gods smiled on me for a brief moment, but in reality it was a nasty trick. As I get out of my car and start digging in my enormous bag for some cash to feed into the City of Dallas' pocketbook ($7 per day for**), it starts DOWNPOURING. CRAP! My perfectly coifed hair, super sheek new blouse and incredibly unforgiving shoes are going to be ruined for the day. Perfect. I dig my umbrella out of my bag and save about 70% of my hair. "I sure hope I remembered a hair**," I say to myself. The bottom 6 inches of my jeans were soaked and my shoes were just sad....I don't have anything more to say about the state of my poor Nine West clearance sale was a sad day for my beloveds. I slosh into my office and some a-hole has jacked the air conditioner down to a frigid -12 degrees. Thanks. So, now I'm pissed off about the unruly traffic and it taking me nearly an hour and a half to get 30 miles, my hair is ruined, my shoes and jeans are dripping wet, and now I'm cold. Frick!

LUCKILY, for everyone that was around me that morning/afternoon, it was Friday. I do better on Friday's, as I suspect most do. And, I got invited to have a beer after work, which was just what I needed after a day like that. For the cherry-topper, I was impatiently awaiting the arrival of Kim, my BFF from Arkansas, to come visit me during her vacation.

Of course, Kim arrived in due time late Friday night and the happy hour beers I had were exactly what I needed to take the edge off my day.

I did a lot of cursing that day...welcome to Texas.