Sunday, August 31, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

I knew there was a reason why Senator McCain waited until after Barack Obama announced his selection for a running mate before he announced his own. He went for maximum surprise and achieved it in his choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Had Obama selected Hillary as a running mate, McCain probably would have selected a male running mate. Because Obama picked a white male running mate, McCain knew he had to make a bold choice that conservatives could be happy with. However, his selection completely negates the argument they are trying to make against Obama: that he is too inexperienced to be president. This from a party that selected the least experienced candidate for president in 2000!

I had heard talk of Governor Sarah Palin as a possible Vice President all summer long but I didn't think much of it because there were far better known female politicians in the Republican Party, particularly Kay Bailey Hutchison, Elizabeth Dole, and Christie Todd Whitman. McCain doesn't seem to think that he might die in office (just because his mother is still alive in her 90s), so if he becomes president, I would worry a lot that he'd die on us. And if he does become president and manages to last a full four years, his selection has guaranteed that he won't win reelection, because by that point, Hillary would be able to walk away with the Democratic nomination and win the presidency. However tempted Hillary fanatics might be to play this strategy, it's a risky move. You're gambling on McCain's health for the next four years. If he does croak before his term is up, then Hillary will not become the first female president...Sarah Palin will. What's a Hillary loyalist to do?

How about this intriguing idea? It occured to me that Obama might have made a promise to the Clintons in exchange for their enthusiastic endorsement and support. What could that promise be? The only logical one I could think of: Hillary Clinton might be Obama's first nominee for Supreme Court Justice when Ruth Bader Ginsberg retires. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court? It would drive the conservatives crazy, but hey...payback's a bitch after they gave us Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Clarence Thomas! So, vote for Obama and see Hillary become a member of the Supreme Court!

One thing I wonder about Governor Palin is how she's going to react when McCain loses his temper and starts cussing her out with choice epithets like he has been known to use on his very own wife. Particularly the word "cunt" (don't believe me? You know what to do: Google it!). That a man could call his own wife that ugly word should tell all you need to know about the mind of McCain and what's to stop him from using that word on his Vice President when she does something he doesn't like?

Friday, 29 August was a big day. Sarah Palin celebrated her wedding anniversary with the news that she was McCain's choice as a running mate. It was also the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in New Orleans. To bury those news items, as well as cutting into the post-convention press coverage of Obama's historical moment, John McCain announced his choice. There's also talk that he selected that day to get the attention off of his 72nd birthday. But we haven't forgotten, John! Happy 72 years old!!!

I received an email that is making the rounds. It was written by a man who is a Navy veteran who also turned 72 this weekend. He made a compelling argument why McCain is too old to be president and that should concern us all. In the email, the writer said that no corporation would ever promote someone into a CEO position at that age. This guy worked his career in a law firm and he said that he never came across a law firm that was run by a guy in his 70s. He also said that there are no Generals and Admirals still leading troops at that age. Once you reach retirement age, you should give your body rest. He worries that the stress and demands of the presidency will take a huge toll on McCain's health and that should concern us all...especially now that he has chosen an inexperienced political newby to be a heartbeat away from becoming the commander in chief.

I'm confident with this selection and McCain's age, that the Republicans are not going to win in November. It'll be interesting to watch the Republican Convention and see how ugly and hateful they'll get (will they be able to resist making any racist insinuations, such as the t-shirt with Curious George as Obama). I find it very interesting that Hurricane Gustav might hit New Orleans while the Republican Convention is going on at the other end of the Mississippi River. It's like God is sending a reminder to us all about the way Republicans ignored the plight of the poor in the disaster that New Orleans became. This election is critical because the person we elect in November will be president on December 21, 2012...the day of mystery according to the ancient Mayans. Perhaps this hurricane is God's reminder not to make the same mistake again. As Obama said, Republicans had eight years to move our country forward and they failed on every measure of importance. "Eight is enough!"

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Michael Jackson Reaches a Half-Century

In the footsteps of Madonna, now another 80s pop icon reaches the half century milestone. Michael Jackson is fifty years old (on Friday, 29 August)! What the hell happened?!? If someone had asked me back in 1987 which of the four superstars (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Prince) would still be popular and making great music twenty years later, I would've put serious money on Michael Jackson. His appeal was universal and let's face it, he was the biggest star on the planet.

Why did I pick the year 1987? Well...that was the year in which the four superstars were riding successful albums: Madonna's "True Blue" was a major hit the previous year and she released "Who's That Girl? Soundtrack" in the summer of 1987. Whitney Houston's sophomore release ("Whitney") came out that summer, which was even better than her debut album. Prince received critical acclaim for his "Sign o' the Times" album. And it was the year of the long-awaited Michael Jackson album, his first since "Thriller" became the best selling album of all time.

Amazing how wrong I would've been. Out of the four, only Madonna has evolved past the 80s persona and maintained her ability to gain attention with each CD and sold-out world tour. Her continued success says a lot about celebrity and how she's able to walk the fine line where it doesn't consume and ultimate destroy her as it has other stars, such as Michael Jackson. So, in honour of his birthday, I will write my impression of his career and music.

I've read that Michael Jackson was disappointed that he didn't win Grammy Awards for his debut solo album, "Off the Wall." So, he got with producer Quincy Jones to create an album that wouldn't be ignored by the public, critics, or the Academy of recording arts and sciences that awards the Grammy each year. The album was "Thriller" and to say he was successful in his quest would be an understatement. A musical earthquake would be more like it. He changed the music industry forever and basically put MTV at the center of our generation's attention with his motion picture quality music videos. His video debuts became must-see events (remember all the attention for "Black or White" which was shown directly after "The Simpsons" in 1991?).

However, when the album was first released in late 1982, the lead-off single was his duet "The Girl is Mine" with Paul McCartney. I was living in Omaha at the time and listened to the radio when I made model cars or airplanes in the basement. My first thought about hearing "The Girl is Mine" was: "why is that woman fighting with the guy over some girl?" I had no idea who Michael Jackson was, but I thought his vocals was a woman arguing with the guy over custody of their daughter, but some lines didn't make sense in that context. As Michael Jackson released the better songs on that album ("Beat It", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller") and I learned more about him, I vaguely remembered the Jackson 5 and was surprised that he was the young lead singer of that 70s group.

One of my mom's friends told mom about her son's insistence that she buy him a white sequined glove and she didn't understand why anyone would buy only one glove. It was funny to hear her go on about it, but she didn't know about Michael Jackson's popularity. Soon, guys would wear jackets that resembled the ones Jackson wore in his "Thriller" and "Beat It" videos.

The jacket you see above is similar to the one my parents bought for me. I wore it a few times until one day when I happened to fall ill in school. In my mind, I associated my sudden illness with the jacket and never wore it again. In retrospect, I can't believe how much I wanted that jacket. It's the same design as the one Jackson wore in "Thriller" and of course, the bad thing about fads is that they become dated really quick and an embarrassment, especially when captured by a camera for posterity. Now that I'm older and wiser, I have to laugh when I see little girls sporting Hannah Montana crap. Someday, they are going to be embarrassed that they ever bought such faddish clothing.

The greatest testament to Michael Jackson's genius is the extended music video to "Thriller", which was the most expensive music video ever made at the time. He showed some pull by getting a big name Hollywood director to direct his music video: John Landis, who made "An American Werewolf in London." You know the video is a classic when it has now become a popular dance that can be found in movies (such as "13 Going on 30"), weddings, Philippine prison, and even the moon of Endor (I kid you not...look on YouTube for Darth Vader and Storm Troopers doing the Thriller dance in the same location as the shield generator station in "Return of the Jedi"). Jackson has created a lot of dance moves in his career, but it's quite telling that "Thriller" is the one people learn the most and have a great time doing so.

Back when Jackson was the biggest superstar on the planet, starring in a movie was much talked about (he did play the Scarecrow in "The Wiz" in his pre-"Thriller" days). He had expressed some interest in playing Peter Pan, as he feels some kind of affinity for that character (similar to the way Madonna insisted that she was the only one who could play Eva Peron). A few years ago, it came out that he was angry at Steven Spielberg for making "Hook" without him and possibly killing any other "Peter Pan" movie project. But it was one more rant in a long series of rants he had against various people he felt "ruined" his career (to that, I'd say that he ruined his own career with his sexual deviancy, runaway egotism, and multiple botched face lifts that have turned him into a scary-looking freakshow).

Anyhow, back in 1988, the best he could come up with was "Moonwalker", a mishmash of music video, bad acting, fantasy elements, and a rather incoherent storyline. It was released in theaters everywhere but the U.S., if I remember correctly. In our country, it went straight to video, but proved itself to be a top seller.

Also that year, he released his autobiography, "Moonwalk," which included a preface by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The book has no connection with the film/video of similar name. They were different projects. In the book, there's a photo of a drawing he did in which you can see that he wrote the year 1998. I don't know what he expected to happen by that date, but when that year came and went, Michael Jackson was far from the headlines. He supposedly had hoped to create an album that would sell 100 million copies, but if any album has the potential to reach that number, it's the already bestselling "Thriller." Nothing he ever does from here on out will ever out-achieve that landmark album, no matter how much he desires it. Kind of reminds you of "be careful what you wish for, you just may get it!" (and remember how he wanted to surpass "Off the Wall"?).
Back at the height of his superstar status, he created with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola a 3-D fantasy film for Disney amusement parks. After the child molestation accusation in 1993, Disney corporation pulled the film from its American parks. In 1997, I was able to "experience Captain EO" at EuroDisney and I thought it was lame and extremely dated. It was a wise decision on Disney's part to pull it from its American parks, though they left it at EuroDisney and Tokyo Disneyland. He still maintains a level of popularity overseas that he'll never be able to recapture at home. The Japanese love Michael Jackson even if we no longer do.

I was in Basic Training when the 1991 Academy Awards aired, so I missed out on the strangest date in history: Madonna showed up on the red carpet with Michael Jackson. She performed the nominated song from "Dick Tracy" ("Sooner or Later"). There was talk for years about a collaboration between the two biggest stars of the 80s (and let's not forget that MTV, Michael Jackson, and Madonna seemed to form a synergy that brought huge success to all three). Why not? Madonna had a duet with Prince on her "Like a Prayer" album ("Lovesong"). However, the hype was short lived. She's merely credited as "Mystery Girl" who gives breathy whispers on his "In the Closet" single. Later, it came out that Madonna was quoted dissing Michael Jackson as one seriously weird guy.

I remember hearing conspiracy theories that Michael and Janet Jackson were the same person. Fueling such speculation is that Michael was supposed to released "Bad" in 1986 but delayed it by a year. In 1986, Janet Jackson released her third album, "Control" and hoped for success where the first two failed. After a string of hits, she released "Rhythm Nation 1814" in 1989 when Michael's own hit-parade from "Bad" ended. They seemed to alternate, back and forth. I found the speculation funny, but I knew it was just crazy talk. In 1995, they finally made a duet together ("Scream"), which was little more than overhyped noise that made me want to scream "enough!"

Perhaps the oddest event in Michael Jackson's life is the 1994 marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, best known as the daughter of Elvis. This strange pairing unleashed a torrent of speculation from a skeptical public. Especially since it came in the wake of the child molestation allegations. Had Elvis been alive, it's doubtful that he'd give his blessing to this union. The motives of both are suspect. For Michael, marrying the daughter of the King could only be a good career move: he hoped to put to rest the gay rumours and the child molesting allegations. He also gets to link himself to the King of Rock n' Roll and possibly get rights to his huge catalogue of music (since he already owned the rights to the Beatles music catalogue). For Lisa Marie, there was speculation that she only married him to get a recording contract for herself and that she was operating as an agent of Scientology to bring him into the fold.

We'll never know the true motives of either icon, but I'm with most people in that I never believed that marriage was authentic. It spelled sham all over it, even when they kissed in front of an MTV Music Award audience and appeared nearly nude in his music video "You Are Not Alone." The marriage simply dripped with cynicism and it wasn't a shock when they divorced less than two years later.

What is it with Michael Jackson and children? One of the stories that came out after Lisa Marie left Michael was that she had complained that on their honeymoon, he brought along an entourage of children and preferred to spend time with them than her. Well, duh! Anyone who watched him over the years can see that he's more "star child" than man. He identifies with Peter Pan. He took Emmanuel Lewis as his "date" to the Grammy Awards. He created an amusement park on his property and regularly invited school children to visit on fieldtrips (a co-worker of mine was one of those who've been to Neverland Ranch in the early 90s). The older he got, the more he utilized children in his music videos and concerts. Any parent who cares about their children and allows them to have contact with Michael Jackson is crazy. The interest could very well be innocent, but do you really want to risk your children's safety and well being?

I rest my case! This photo shows how careless Michael Jackson is with his "own children." He had infamously put his son ("Blanket") at risk to show off to fans in the parking lot several stories below at a hotel in Berlin. What kind of father does this sort of thing? It proved that something was seriously off in his mentality.

This is an interesting photo of Michael Jackson, with "his children." Doesn't he look more and more like a woman? I feel very sorry for "his children." They deserve a better parent than Michael Jackson. One day, they will grow up and either be psychologically messed up and unable to relate to common people, or they will run far away from their wacko dad.

The reason why I put "his children" in quotes is because I don't believe they are biologically his. In footage aired a few years back with Martin Bashir pretending to be Michael's friend for an exclusive documentary to air during February sweeps, the children are white. Though Michael might have bleached his skin, his DNA is still black, so even if his children have a white mother (Debbie Rowe, who was Jackson's nurse and "second wife"), they'd still most likely have some characteristics of his African-American heritage (after all, look at Barack Obama...his mom is white, but he's unmistakeably black). Someone should do a DNA test on these children to determine the real father (maybe it's John Edwards!) because anyone with a brain can tell that the kids aren't his and they should be taken into child custody immediately.

In 1988, he released a single "Leave Me Alone." It was about the press printing strange stories about him (though it was later revealed that he had planted some of the stories himself, such as the one where he supposedly slept in an hyperbaric oxygen chamber and the one where he bought the remains of the Elephant Man). It was the start of his paranoia era. In fact, most of the new songs on his "HIStory" album was full of rants against his critics. There was an anger to them that you never heard before, and it appeared like fame was taking its toll on his creative genius. He used to have fun and a sense of humour. Now, his music revealed the rantings of a paranoid has been.

Yes, we'll gladly leave you alone if you just fade away into obscurity. Looks like he granted the American public that wish. After going on trial for child molestation (and getting acquitted), he pretty much disappeared from the public eye except for some random reports such as his using the women's restroom in some Middle Eastern country; his wearing a chador--which is what women wear in Saudi Arabia where only the eyes are visible; and talks about setting up a regular performing gig at some Vegas hotel, which is a sure sign that your celebrity is in decline.

He had named his Greatest Hits CD appropriately: HIStory, because his career was pretty much history after that. In 2001, he released "Invincible" which failed to achieve the hitmaking status of his previous releases. His song and video "Rock My World" followed a formula that worked in the past: celebrity appearances, a look that hadn't changed, the same dance moves that involve touching his crotch, and even the same sound. If he was smart, he would follow Madonna's genius: reinvention. My suggestion? If he wants a comeback, he should get a haircut, drop the para-military look, learn some new dance moves, enlist the freshest producers to create a new sound, and record the most lyrically personal album of his career (without ranting against supposed enemies).

However, it ain't gonna happen. You know why? His talent has crested. His genius is over. He's a man stuck in his 80s heyday. He keeps trying to replicate his "Thriller" success without taking risks or reinventing his image. But the biggest reason why he's in decline is because his sexual deviancy has consumed and destroyed him. The reports of his seducing children with "Jesus juice" (wine) and pornography doesn't sound like a man in control of his life. He's a tragic figure who presents a moral lesson for us all. You can achieve greatness and success, and have everything, but if you don't take care of your addictions or acknowledge your shadow self, it will eventually consume you and destroy everything you've worked to create and build.

It's a shame. "Thriller" was a great achievement, but I have to think that such phenomenal success (he was merely 25 when it became a hit) ruined him. He got lost in the persona he projected to the world (that of man-child). Now at 50, it'll be hard for the public to accept him as a real-life Peter Pan. Everyone has to grow up eventually, and "his children" won't remain small, cute and vulnerable forever. What's he going to do when they are rebellious teenagers and decide to run away for college and never want to speak to him again?

All I can think to say now is that I feel sorry for the pathetic figure he has become. It's hard to believe that he's half a century. You almost kind of wish that he could remain frozen at his quarter-century self, when we could accept him as a Peter Pan-ish man-child who sings to "Billie Jean" that "the kid is not my son." Everyone could believe that.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Promise Land!

Absolutely phenomenal!!! Based on the memorable speech he gave at the last Democratic National Convention in Boston four years ago, I had no doubts that he would give a speech for the history books, to join with the memory of the one that was spoken 45 years ago on the very same day by another African American. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, maximizing the symbolic value, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of a dream that one day the sons of sharecroppers and the sons of slaves would sit together at the table of brotherhood. One wonders if he ever thought America might have its first black president a half century after he gave that speech. In his last speech, the famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop", Dr. King said "mine eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the lord..." and that he had been to the promise land. Those words came immediately to mind as I watched Senator Barack Obama's speech.

He absolutely landed a perfect ten in his speech. He said exactly what needed to be said, especially regarding his readiness to lead. Of McCain, he asked how a person who votes the Bush agenda 90% of the time could possibly convince people that he's the candidate of change. Obama said that he's not willing to take a chance on 10% change. From his speech, he also used Bush's words from eight years ago against the Republicans that "eight is enough." Even more impressive, he re-worked a popular line from his speech four years ago about there being no such thing as red states and blue states, that Democrats love this country as much as Republicans do. Even more, he said that people who have no ideas use fear to hide their lack of vision and want to make elections about small ideas. But he'll have none of that. Obama has a vision and near the end of his speech, he invoked Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech and that truly brought tears to my eyes. One could say that Obama is here to finally redeem that dream of 45 years ago.

"Message to McCain: We love our country as much as you do!"

One thing Republicans have been criticizing is Obama's "celebrity", particularly going so far as to compare him to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, even though they didn't do their homework. Britney is a loyal Bush supporter who told CNN in 2003 that Americans should just trust the president and everything he does. She sounded more like a Hitler Youth than an American. With Paris Hilton's wealth, you can probably safely bet that her parents vote Republican while she wouldn't have a clue how to vote.

I laugh at the Republicans making issue of Obama's ability to fill stadiums to U2-sized proportions. It's plain old jealousy! Don't think so? Consider this: one propaganda book about Obama ("Obama Nation") written by the same guy who was behind the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" (he embodied Orwellian "doublespeak" with that moniker), claims that Obama is little more than a cult of personality and he offers as proof the ginormous crowds who spend hours waiting to fill stadiums everywhere he speaks (and I was one of those who attended the 70,000+ audience that hot day in May two days before the Oregon primary). Such a claim is laughable because it is the Republicans who have tried to create a "cult of personality" around Bush. He has a habit of choosing staff members who are blindly loyal over competence and experience. His idea of a presidency was that it would be easier if America had a dictatorship, so long as he got to be the dictator. At appearances in 2004, Bush required people to sign loyalty pledge cards and banned anyone who showed any sign that they might not agree with him. He told the world "you're either with us or against us." His basis of selecting the unqualified Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court was her gushing statements to him: "you're the best president ever, sir!" And Condoleezza Rice has often acted as a filter so he won't receive any contradictory information that might upset him.

Do we have that to fear in Barack Obama? I doubt that very seriously. Obama had said before he revealed his V.P. selection that he wants a partner who can be counted on to tell him the truth, even if it contradicts what he believes. With his life and experience, especially since he claims membership in both the white and the black race, Obama understands nuance and complexity. He's no simpleton. He doesn't need to be in a cult of personality and people who believe that haven't a clue about Democrats and liberals. Liberals by our nature are inquisitive and don't blindly follow anyone. When Obama's president, you can count on his getting criticism from the liberals when he doesn't live up to our ideals or whenever he makes a mistake.

That's not the case with Republicans. The Bush-loving conservatives I know still to this day will not admit to me or maybe even themselves that Bush has made a single mistake. To their narrow minds, he is as Harriet Miers so gushingly said: "the best president ever!" What does that tell you about the mindset of conservatives? By contrast, every liberal I know was angered about Clinton's affair with Monica. Though most did not want impeachment, we still felt betrayed for the trust we put in his promise that his marital problems were behind them. Republicans, however, show no similar inclination. If it came out that Bush had an affair with that gay male escort James Guckert/Jeff Gannon or that he and Condoleezza Rice did indeed partipate in some interracial lovin', conservatives would find a way to defend it. That's how cults operate. The cult leader continues to introduce little changes that his followers accept and eventually they find themselves believing in things they never would have swallowed whole. That's the mark of a cult of personality.

Obama has our support, but he can't buy off our conscience. When he swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, you can count on liberals to hold him to that oath, unlike the conservatives who allowed Bush/Cheney to shred our most sacred document. That's the true cult of personality.

So, let them be jealous. They are jealous because they can't produce a similar candidate who is able to tap into the anger and aspirations of the past eight years. As we saw in their primaries, the best they could come up with was a pathetic band of geriatric white men who should be running for president of the AARP not the USA. Democrats can't help it that our ideas inspire people and that we have plenty of energetic, charismatic, and young politicians to choose from. That's why I'm glad that they are jealous. After eight years of enduring the worst president ever, Americans want something to believe in and Obama is here to lead us closer to the promise land.

Flying high! Hard to believe that just four years ago, he gave that incredible speech in an otherwise dismal Convention (it was too militaristic for my tastes), and now he is ready to lead Democrats back into power in the White House with tails long enough to regain control of Congress and expand our majority in the Senate. For me, this is what destiny looks like and I hope the spirits of Dr. King, the Kennedy brothers, and even Abraham Lincoln are lifting him up to where he can soar to an electoral tsunami that completely rebukes the Republican party for an entire generation.

It was great to see former Vice President Gore speak on the same night as Howard Dean and Barack Obama. Whenever I see him, I always feel a sense of sadness because he was so qualified to be president, especially since he was essentially an understudy to the presidency for eight years. It was great to hear him remind Conventioneers that we all learned in 2000 that every vote counts and voting does make a difference. At work, I argued with a guy who thinks Bush is a great president that our country would be better off had Gore been president for eight years. He pooh-poohed the idea, but I said there were two things that he never would have done: squandered the surplus and invaded Iraq. Those two things alone put our country where it is today--in economic shambles and with an exhausted over-extended military. Our country would be in a much stronger position today if we still had a surplus (instead of the largest debt in history) and no costly military adventures in a country that can't even police itself from terrorists.

I love this gesture of Gore, which shows true humility of a great man. Gore has been the American politician I have most admired since 1992. He never got to be president, but as he showed in his Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth", you can do even greater things beyond the White House. He has the Nobel Peace Prize to prove it and here's hoping that he will achieve his dream of transforming our planet to a new level of conscious action.

Howard Dean was my choice for president in 2004. Though I was disappointed by the voters in Iowa for voting their fears instead of their hopes, when he got to lead the Democratic National Committee (in exchange for a promise that he wouldn't run for president in 2008), I thought it was a great consolation prize. He's probably better suited as DNC chair, with his idea of running candidates in every congressional district and having the presidential nominee campaign in red states. The previous chair (Terry MacAuliffe) pretty much conceded the South and the West to the Republicans, which was a stupid idea. Even if Democrats lose in red districts in those regions, we still need candidates to represent the party and work to convince voters that Democrats aren't like the stereotypes that Republicans paint them as. When I went to BYU, I was relieved to know that there was a College Democrats chapter on campus (which I participated in). We were a small group and often got the oddest comments or questions on that majority Republican campus. While we were a small group, I was pleased to see how much things changed when a huge protest occurred on campus last year when Dick Cheney gave the commencement address.

From Dean, we learn that even though he didn't win the Democratic nomination, his campaign laid the groundwork for Obama to pick up and run with. Also, Dean secured a better position that has transformed the Democratic Party and helped win back control of Congress in 2006.

I had hoped to see his speech to the Convention, but I don't think PBS aired it, or else I missed it. Darn. He was one person I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say.
I'm also disappointed that I didn't get to see Sheryl Crow perform. She'll be in concert in Portland soon but I can't go. Her new album is awesome and one I'd love to hear her perform. The reason why I post her picture here, though, is because a friend of mine had requested me to write my thoughts on why Hollywood is liberal for a future post. I will write that one for Sunday's post. It always amuses me when Republican candidates for president often receive cease and desist letters from musicians when they learn that their songs are being played at Republican candidate events. Dole, Bush, and McCain have all had this problem when they tried to pick songs by Bruce Springsteen, John Mellancamp, or Tom Petty. Country music is about the only genre that's safe to choose, though they'd have to pass over selections by Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, and the guy who sang "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" for the same reasons. Poor Republicans...they just can't get a break. Their candidates don't inspire or fill stadiums, they don't make history, and they can't use rousing American rock anthems in their campaigns. The only thing they can do is make oodles of money for the corporate masters.

With that, I have to say a big Thank You to the Democratic Party for throwing the best convention in my lifetime. There's a lot to be proud of with our party and history was made. Now it's on to the hard work of winning the election so we can make history again. As Obama put it in his acceptance speech: "Change doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Proud to be Dem

Another night, another Clinton speaks, and W O W!!! What an endorsement! The Man from Hope throws his support behind the man with hope and reminded Democrats that Republicans back in 1992 said that he was too young and inexperienced to be commander in chief. It didn't work in 1992 and he promises that it won't work in 2008. Now, like then, it's still the economy. Change versus more of the same. It's deja vu all over again (as Yogi Berra famously put it).

Clinton was at his best in this speech. Gracious, charismatic, masterful speaker with a great command of facts. Everything Bush is not. He brought his megawatt superstar power to the Convention, reminding Democrats what a winner looks and sounds like. I'm sure it was not easy for him to give this speech, as we all know how much he wanted his wife to be the nominee, but he did a great job and reminded me of all of his best qualities that made him such a brilliant politician.

The Convention on Wednesday evening was truly historic, as Senator Barack Obama became the first African American nominee of a major political party. And not just any political party, but the OLDEST political party in the history of our planet. What made this even more remarkable is that Senator Hillary Clinton moved to dispense with the traditional roll call of the state delegates (which is one of my favourite aspects of conventions) in favour of a simple acclamation. She made this request to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the chairwoman of the Convention. Can you see how awesome this is?!? That is truly why I'm a proud Democrat. Our party may often lose too many elections that they ought to win, but it is the Democratic Party that continually sets the historical precedence. Founded by Thomas Jefferson, it outlasted the Federalists and the Whigs. We have the only president elected to four terms. We had the first Catholic president. We had the first female Vice President candidate (twenty-four years later and the Republicans still haven't put a woman in the second slot). We had the first Baby Boomer president. We had the first Jewish Vice Presidential nominee. We had the first First Lady to run for political office (and win!). We had the first female Attorney General and Secretary of State. We had the first African-American female Senator and the first female Speaker of the House. If that weren't enough, in this election cycle we had the first female and first Hispanic with a serious shot at winning the nomination and the presidency. And now we have the first African American candidate for president.

Some cynics out there might say, "so?" Well, I got news for the history books, it's the progressives who win the verdict of history. Regressives fight all the way and they end up looking behind the times. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be on the leading edge of history, always pushing to become a better country, to break down barriers, and to change history rather than have history change me. That's why I am and always will be a proud Democrat, even if I often end up in tears on election night when my candidate goes down in defeat. We may lose many battles along the way, but in the long sweep of history, Democrats get redeemed and we're winning the war of ideals. After all, many say that it was FDR who saved capitalism from itself. His policies created the middle class, which Republicans keep trying to destroy by turning American into a nation of few haves and many have nots.

Our party isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot better than the sanctimonious party that pretends to be religious to con the sincere Christian voters while enacting policies that go against everything Jesus was about. Democrats might not talk about religion much, but I believe that the policies they enact reflect the values of Christ more accurately. And we should all remember that Jesus warned his followers that many charlatans and false prophets will speak of religion with some authority and fool many good people, so you have to be vigilant and look at the fruit of a person's actions to know who they really are. So given the choice between the Religious Talk Republicans and the actions of the Democrats, I'd choose the Democrats every time. They don't need to preach values as long as they keep on going as the party that best represents the people.

I wish more religious people would understand the difference. It's sad how easily duped they are by the lies of the Republicans who love to talk about God and values, while once in power, doing everything that goes against what Jesus was all about. But we shouldn't be surprised. Jesus told us that many sincere believers would be fooled because rhetoric matters more to them than actions. That's why they will keep voting for a Republican like Senator Larry Craig of Idaho who speaks about family values, even as he solicits bawdy bathroom sex with male undercover cops in public restrooms. They prefer to be blind than deaf.

I was also impressed with Biden's speech and the introductory video about his life and philosophy. He also published a campaign book last year (you know you're a political junkie when you get excited reading campaign books by politicians) that I hope is out in paperback so I can get it and read it before election day. I know little about him, but based on what he said in his speech and his background, I can understand why Obama chose him and while he might not be a truly bold choice, Biden might be a smart choice that helps Obama win in November.

I also watched Senator Evan Bayh's speech and thought he did a good job. He wasn't boring (like Senator Harry Reid, can that guy put an audience to sleep or what?) and seemed more energized than I expected. I still think that had Gore picked him as a running mate in 2000, he probably would've won a clear victory (especially when he only needed 3 electoral votes and winning Indiana would've made Florida's debacle irrelevant). Will Bayh have a future in national politics? I don't know, but he probably would've been Hillary's VP choice.

Obama will speak later on tonight, but I won't get around to writing about it until Saturday. Friday is way too eventful: Michael Jackson turns 50, John McCain turns 72 (!!!), McCain will select his running mate (Pawlenty or Romney or Crist? Please, oh please let him pick Crist!!! It'll make the fall election so much more exciting with the potential of all those gay rumours to totally blow up in their faces. That would be karmic justice for a party of homophobic and closeted, self-loathing homosexuals). If I'm not mistaken, Friday is also the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina ravaging New Orleans. I hope the news media will remind Americans of Republican incompetence in the aftermath of that disaster. What a great lead-in for the Republican National Convention! As we've learned in the past few years, GOP stands for "Gay Old Party"!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Face of Grace

She did it! Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention completely wowed me and I wondered why we didn't see more of that Hillary in the campaign. She was the embodiment of grace. Particularly when she asked her supporters if they were only in it for her, or were they serious about making our country better for those who have been marginalized in the Bush era. It probably wasn't an easy speech for her to make, for she would much prefer to be the one making the final speech of the convention as a nominee. However, she expressed her true commitments to the Democratic cause. Hopefully her loyal legion of supporters will not defect to McCain out of spite, in hopes that she'll be the nominee four years from now (don't bet on it: I don't see how our country can survive four more years of Bush's policies in the faulty memory of McCain). Hillary could become the next Ted Kennedy in the Senate, making her impact on Capitol Hill rather than from the White House. Imagine our country with President Obama, Speaker of the House Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Clinton! Can you say "Universal Health Care"?!?

I got a laugh out of Hillary mentioning the appropriateness of Bush and McCain meeting next week in the Twin Cities because we can't tell them apart anymore. I'm not sure I'll be watching the Republican Convention because the last one was just too over the top with people sporting purple heart bandaids to mock Senator Kerry's purple heart medals (it's odd to me how easily conservatives can be duped...they claim to be pro-military but they easily ignore their leaders' draft deferments and evasions while marginalizing the Democrats who served in Vietnam) and they got Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller to deliver the most hateful, vitriolic, and negative speech I had ever heard at any convention. This was a man who endorsed Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and then Gore in 2000. He was a popular two term governor who was appointed to the Senate when the Republican Senator Paul Coverdell unexpectedly died in 2000. After 9/11, Senator Miller went loco and turned on his party, making false accusations that the party no longer represented his values. Um, wrong. Senator Miller was known as "Zig Zag Zell" while he was governor and because Georgia became more conservative since his tenure as governor in the 1990s, he pandered to the Republicans to justify his appointment to the Senate (it was controversial because our Democratic governor had replaced a deceased Republican Senator with a Democrat). Fortunately, he only served one term.

When I think about the Hillary campaign, the thing that always comes to mind is the fanaticism of the feminists on a church-affiliated webboard that I had a falling out with a few months ago. The falling out was sparked by the claims of these blind Hillary fanatics that her campaign fell victim to sexism, when all the data I've looked at exposes that belief for the deception that it is. How can it be sexism when Obama won by overwhelming margins female voters under age 30? And Hillary won the middle class and working class white male voters in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas. Hasn't there been an argument that working class / blue collar men tend to be sexist in their attitudes? Yet by huge margins, they voted for Hillary over Obama. Maybe it's an indication of their views on race and they had no intention of voting for either Democrat in November.

Several articles have even pointed out that Hillary's defeat revealed a divide between the first generation feminists and the second generation. The older generation put their hopes and dreams into Hillary becoming the first female president because they think she's the only one who has that chance in their lifetime. The younger generation of women see themselves in the majority on college campuses, in graduate school enrollment, and many aren't willing to support Hillary just because she's a woman. In fact, if Obama does not win the White House in November, you can bet that Governor Kathleen Sebelius will run in 2012. We might see the first woman versus woman candidates in a Democratic primary.

What the radical feminists on that church board refuse to look at are the facts, so blind they are to the cult of personality they surround Hillary with. Here are the things that did Hillary's campaign in:

(1) Clinton fatigue. So many people are tired of the Bush/Clinton/Bush dynamic that the thought of prolonging it for another four to eight years just rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Why should two families have a lock on the White House?

(2) She ran as the inevitable front runner, which might have caused some people to say "wait a minute!"

(3) She banked on securing the nomination on Tsunami Tuesday, when 23 states voted in the Democratic Primary. Her campaign had run low on cash leading up to that day and the end result was that she won the big states but Obama won many of the small states. In an even dumber move, she basically ignored caucus states and that's where Obama racked up enough delegates to make it mathematically impossible for Clinton to catch up with him.

(4) Did people really believe she was authentic when she downed shots like a sorority chick, ate barbecue, and talked about being under sniper fire in Bosnia? It only reminded voters of previous claims like she had secretly always been a Yankees fan (which she conveniently revealed when she began her run for the Senate in New York in 1999).

Simply put, she played it safe and followed the same high-priced consultant path as Kerry and Gore before her while Obama ran a bold campaign that borrowed the themes from Howard Dean four years earlier. He captured the yearning that Democrats have had since Dean went down in defeat in 2004.

If we had seen more of the Hillary Clinton that was visible in her speech to the Democratic delegates in Denver, she might have secured the nomination. In the end, if she's still smarting over her near defeat, I hope she realizes the fallacy of following the advice of the K-Street consultants (which wouldn't surprise me if they were secretly Republicans working to defeat Democrats from the inside). Following the same strategy as Gore and Kerry is a sure recipe for defeat.

The fanatical feminists who are still obsessed with Hillary and thinking of voting for McCain, my message to them would be: "get over yourselves!" I admit, I went through my own disappointment and depression over Gore's defeat. Though it was more difficult because he was the clear winner and the election was stolen from him. However, as difficult as it was from a guy who wanted to see a Gore presidency since 1992 and had dreams of working in his adminstration, I finally got over my disappointment. When Dean lost, I held my nose and voted for Kerry. If Hillary voters sabotage Obama's campaign and vote for McCain, all I can say is that payback is a bitch. If the radical feminists think that helping McCain become president so that their beloved Hillary can run again in 2012, I have three words for them: "Governor Kathleen Sebelius." She has executive experience and knows how to win votes in a conservative, solidly red state. So if Obama loses in November, I will be backing Sebelius in 2012 (and maybe even seeking to work on her campaign). My question is, are they just fanatical about Hillary or are they wanting a woman president? Or does Obama's presence raise the specter of affirmative action that they don't like (that a black man with less experience passed over a "more qualified" white woman for a top job)?

Anyhow, what the whole controversy taught me was that feminists and I don't get along because I've never gotten along with anyone who was an -ist. I'm no fan of blind ideology or blind loyalty. That's the kind of thing you expect in the Republican party, not among Democrats.

In conclusion, I am impressed with Hillary's speech. She was graceful and gracious. Had she shown more of that side to her instead of the calculatingly cold fembot, she would probably be the nominee today. Don't hate me, feminists, for pointing out the obvious. Trust me...we will have a woman president in the next 20 years. It's just not going to be your beloved Hillary. So get over it!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How the Demos Can Lose This Election

I received an email with the following guidelines from an Obama supporter and thought it perfectly summed up the John Kerry campaign in 2004. I hope and pray that Obama has learned the right lessons on how not to run for president because the Democratic playbook is guaranteed to lose every time.

How do I know? Well, the last week I was in the Navy, some guys told me: "I didn't agree with most of your opinions, but I respected how you never backed down even when you were the only one who had those opinions." It is my belief that conservatives will give liberals a fair chance. The complaint I've heard from many conservatives is that liberals are too afraid to defend their own opinions. If liberals won't stand up for what they believe in, even if they are the only ones defending their views, then why should people trust liberals to stand up to tyrants, dictators, and terrorists? Their fear is that a liberal president will surrender to terrorists in the face of threats because they are not willing to stand up for what they believe in against the likes of Karl Rove and his ilk (Swift Boaters).

So if liberals are tired of losing the White House, please read the following and pass it along. America doesn't have another four years to endure under an unofficial third Bush term. It's time for liberals to really put up a fight and expose neo-conservative ideology for what it is: neither neo nor conservative. In fact, neo-conservatism is anti-American and anti-democratic.

The Kerry Playbook: How to Suck the Life Out of a Candidate in Ten Easy Steps

It is time, once and for all, for Democrats to burn the Kerry playbook. For those who have done their best to forget, here are some of its key features. It is the same playbook used to guide one losing Democratic campaign after another for decades:

(1) Be nice. Be positive. It's okay to take an occasional swipe, but don't remind the public regularly why they should be concerned about keeping the incumbent or his party in the White House no matter how incompetent, deceitful, or criminal their actions (e.g., don't talk about Abu Ghraib because the other side might accuse you of "not supporting our troops").

(2) If you get attacked, don't attack back. If you absolutely have to respond, start with a weak rejoinder, preferably one without any hint of masculinity, like "If that were the case, I would find it very disappointing." Show as little emotion as you can when responding to attacks. Never express outrage at attacks on your character or patriotism or strike back at your opponent for making them or colluding with those who do.

(3) Assume people know who your candidate is because you do and they've heard about him for months. Wait until the convention to start defining your candidate in richer detail, after he's already been branded by the other side and it's difficult to change people's minds. Don't inoculate in advance against the ideas you know will appear in early August attack books that are likely to morph into television ads around the time of the Democratic Convention or in October, particularly if their content is predictable and potentially toxic.

(4) If there are elements of your candidate's life story that worry you, don't talk about them. Cross your fingers and close your eyes really tight, and hope Karl Rove won't notice them.

(5) If the other side starts to define your candidate in ways that might be damaging, hold your fire, and if you have to say anything, start with, "the American people are smarter than that." If you have to take corrective measures, do so only after your polling data have shown definitively that the damage has been done.

(6) If the other side predictably defines you as elite (as they have done against every Democrat for 40 years), don't respond, especially if your opponent is from a much more privileged background than you are. Find a way to mention any elite universities you've attended or slip them into images in your biographical ads.

(7) Don't make any sustained effort to brand your opponent, even as he is branding you. That would be negative, and focus group participants don't like negativity. Let your opponent define both of you.

(8) To prepare for debates and similar television performances, focus on facts, figures, and briefing books. Spend little or no time on nonverbal cues, like making eye contact with the audience, and be sure not to have anyone prep the candidate who has expertise in nonverbal communication.

(9) When asked in debates and similar forums about wedge issues such as abortion or guns, appear as if you've heard the question for the first time, or be ready with dispassionate responses, and make little effort to connect with voters in the center who could hear your values and resonate with them if you spoke about them with conviction. Do not describe the slippery slopes on the other side the way Republicans always do against Democrats (e.g., that your opponent believes that if your sixteen-year-old daughter were raped, the government, not you and your daughter, should decide whether she should carry the baby to term).

(10) If anti-incumbent sentiment is high and your opponent's party is unpopular, make the election a referendum about your candidate (the challenger) rather than the incumbent and his party.

Is this a parody of the Kerry campaign? I wish it were. It's a synopsis.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Music Video Monday: Obama Girl

This isn't the video I had originally intended to post for today's Music Video Monday. However, with the Olympics finished and the Democratic National Convention starting in Denver, I decided why not celebrate the start of the most expensive informercial by posting a video by Obama Girl?

She might have a crush on Obama, but I got a crush on her. Fortunately, you won't see me posting a video on YouTube proclaiming my crush on Obama Girl. I can't sing for one thing.

Anyhow, enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Farewell to the Beijing Olympic Games

After 17 days, the Beijing Olympic Games finally comes to a close. Overall, I would say that the Chinese did an excellent job, especially with the stunning Opening Ceremonies that basically outdid every previous Olympic opening cermonies and throws the gauntlet down to the English to see if they can surpass what the Chinese have done (with the 2008 drummers, the fantastic fireworks display, and most surprising of all: the person who lit the cauldron was lifted up into the air and ran--while suspended in the air--around the entire stadium before lighting the cauldron!). They put on a good show.

However, not without some controversy. The girl as seen in the photo on the left was discovered to have lip synched to a pre-recorded song. Granted, it's risky to entrust a young child to sing live in front of any audience, never mind an audience of billions around the world. However, as the media reported, she wasn't even the original singer. Nope. The Chinese did a Milli Vanilli on the world because the real singer (as pictured on the right) was deemed "not cute enough." Now, what's that girl going to think when she learns that bit of news someday when she's old enough to understand what happened? I personally think she's sufficiently "cute enough" but it's interesting that in China, they also fall prey to the looks over talent that has afflicted the American music industry in recent years.

That wasn't the only controversy these games have produced. The other Opening Ceremony fakery involved digitally added fireworks for a television audience. So, who knows which ones were real and which ones were fake? I don't understand why the Chinese would have to resort to faking a fireworks display. They invented fireworks! And the fireworks show they put on was impressive enough as it is, assuming of course that most of it was legitimate.

Then there's the controversy over the questionable ages of the Chinese women's gymnastics team. The rules state that they have to at least turn 16 the same year as the Olympics. In China (like Thailand), people are considered 1 year old on the day they are born. So, that only adds to the confusion. However, several of the Chinese olympians look as young as 8. Will they be stripped of their medals? Probably not, but they should.
These games have introduced the world to some of the most uniquely designed stadiums, which I think is awesome. I'm a fan of innovative architecture (that won't seem dated in a decade's time). Atlanta didn't focus on aesthetics and innovation (the cheap looking Olympic Cauldron is the prime example) for their Olympics. Beijing created the oddest looking stadium, better known as "The Bird's Nest." Though I didn't like it when I first saw it, having seen what it can do at night, when lit up by coloured lights and fireworks, I must say that it has grown on me. It's definitely worth being on a postcard and having pictures taken of it, and even being a stop on a tour of Beijing.

Another oddly cool looking facility for these Olympic Games is "the Water Cube", where the swimming events took place. It looks better when lit up at night. Why couldn't Atlanta have thought of something like that?

One of the things that most shocked me was how bad the pollution is in Beijing (as seen above, which is Tiananman Square with the entrance to the Forbidden City in the background). This pollution was apparent on television and I don't understand how anyone could live there. When I lived in Italy, the pollution in Naples always gave me a headache and I felt miserable there, even though there was a lot of places to see. It's a shame how poorly governments and businesses treat our environment. However, compared to Beijing, Los Angeles looks as clear as Portland!

Above are the medals for the Beijing Olympic Games. These are supposedly the back side of the medals. The United States Olympic team has won a total of 110 medals, the most of any country. China was second in total medal count (with 1oo) but had the most Gold medals. While I'm not normally big on "the medal count", for these Olympics, I thought it was absolutely vital for America to beat the Chinese in total medals won. I know it's kind of silly, but it matters in a psychological sense. Beating commies and Nazis, especially on their turf, is a MUST!

I think it's most appropriate than in a country where EIGHT is considered the lucky number (hence the reason why the Beijing Games started on the eighth day of the eighth month in the eighth year of the decade at precisely 8:08 p.m.), that one Olympian reached his goal of winning a record eight gold medals in a single Olympics. If that's not destiny calling, I don't know what is! Again, Michael Phelps gets my congratulations and serves as an inspiration for me to go out and get my own gold (a better paying and more meaningful job).

Above is the official logo of the Beijing Olympics. When I lived in Atlanta, I learned that each bidding city has a logo. When the winning city is awarded the Olympic games, they have to come up with a new logo. I don't understand why, as some of the bidding logos are better than the host logos. However, I wasn't too fond of the Beijing Olympic logo. There are others I like better.

London 2012 is not one of them! What the hell is that crap? You know some design firm got paid millions to come up with that jumble. It's my opinion that maybe people are just running out of ideas for logos, since the best ones have already been designed.

The above shows all of the bidding cities for the 2016 Olympic Games. Baku and Chicago have the best logos, I think. However, the city I would like to see win is Rio de Janeiro because South America has never hosted an Olympics and it is their turn (sorry, Chicago!). For 2020, I'd love to see Paris host the Olympics since I consider it the greatest city on earth and for such a visionary year as 2020, no other city on earth deserves the Olympics more (Paris hasn't hosted an Olympics since 1924). Maybe in 2024, the Olympics can return to the U.S. (hopefully in the city of San Francisco or Boston).
I really liked the Athens Olympic Games logo. It played tribute to the ancient Olympic games when the award was not a Gold medal, but a laurel of olive leaves. The colour also matched the Greek flag. It's very classy and simple.

The Sydney Olympics is a case where I like the bid logo (below) better than the official logo (left). Too bad they had to change it. Though it's not a bad host city logo, I just thought the bid logo was brilliantly done and hard to beat (they utilized the familiar shape of the Sydney Opera House, which is my favourite architectural design).

Atlanta got many things wrong regarding the Olympics (particularly the Olympic cauldron and the official mascot), but the thing they got right was the host city logo (at left). It's far and away the best Olympic logo ever designed, paying tribute to 100 years of the modern Olympic Games.

What's surprising is that they were able to come up with a logo that surpassed the bid logo, which I thought was brilliant as well. When I first saw it, I thought it was a winning design, thus was shocked to learn that after Atlanta won the right to host the Olympics, that they had to come up with a new logo. I didn't think they'd be able to come up with something better, but they did.

So, here's my kudos to China for hosting a great Olympics (Sydney still gets my vote as "best ever"). Now let's get back to focusing on human rights and holding China accountable for their dismal record, for gentrifying Tibet, and for supporting evil regimes in Burma and Sudan. They had their chance to show the world they could host a major international sporting event without disaster and impress us all with their pageantry, but they also promised that if awarded the Olympic Games, they'd improve their human rights record. Now, we must hold them accountable to their promises!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Far From Lincoln

So, Barack Obama went with the most obvious and safest choice for a running mate: former two-time presidential contender Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware. I was a year old when he won his first election to Congress at the impressive age of 29. He lost a wife and child in a car accident and had to raise their young sons on his own. The two will appear together at the old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where Lincoln once served. While the choice is understandable, the predictable ho-hum of it all is kind of disappointing. The two of them together look too much like a student with his mentor, which we've seen before...when Cheney named himself as Bush's running mate. However, I am confident that Biden will be nothing like Cheney, if he becomes our next Vice President.

I don't think it's cool that he lied a few days ago when he told reporters that he's "not that guy." Not even nominated and already caught lying!

The selection only proves how scripted and dull politics has become. Safe is preferred over bold. Clinton selecting Gore as a running mate was unprecedented and exciting. The selection of Biden is predictably dull. I'm already bored writing about it, so moving on...

How about that McCain? A few days ago, he was asked how many houses he owned and he couldn't answer it without referring to his staff! What does that tell you?

Must be nice to marry a super rich bitch and major hottie, able to buy SEVEN homes (granted, a few condos are where his children live) places like Coronado, California; Phoenix; the ranch in Sedona (with two guest houses) and in Virginia.

What I take issue with is that he supposedly prides himself on his blunt honesty, but he couldn't answer a simple question? Did he NOT know how many houses he owned? Or was he too embarrassed to say how many homes he owned, knowing full well that his party made issue of John Kerry's multiple residences in 2004? Now I know why McCain and Kerry got along so famously: both are Vietnam Veterans who married rich heiresses (Cindy McCain to her father's Beer distribution company fortune; Teresa Heinz Kerry to her deceased first husband's ketchup company fortune). And both flubbed the question about houses and SUVs.

It's funny to hear Republicans call Obama a rich elitist. Um...he's a mixed race guy from a lower middle class background who won a scholarship to Columbia University and then went to Harvard Law School. He was most definitely NOT a legacy kid to the Ivy league. But, because he eats arugula, shops at Whole Foods, and lives in a million dollar mansion in a good Chicago neighbourhood, somehow he's the elitist?

Compare with Senator McCain who followed his grandfather and father's footsteps to the Naval Academy and a career in the U.S. Navy. His grandfather and father were the only father-son Admirals in U.S. Navy history. His career was cut short due to five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, so there was no way he'd make admiral. Instead, he got the political bug as a Naval aide in D.C. to a politician. Then he dumped his disfigured first wife for a hot, young heiress to a multi-million dollar fortune. She and her daddy bought him a seat to Congress and eventually a Senate vacancy opened up, where he's served ever since.

Let's be real here. The days when a humble background a la Lincoln and his log cabin upbringing and learning the law from some old discarded law books he discovered in a barrel are long gone. In American politics, you basically have to be rich to run for governor, the Senate, and especially the presidency. Even running for a two year term in the House of Representatives requires major cash. So, let's be honest...poor people don't serve in political office because the system is stacked against it.

It's disingenuous of Republicans to call a Democrat elitist, especially someone like Obama, who got everything by his own talents and a bit of luck. I thought Republicans preferred black people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps instead of going on welfare. At least, that's what they claim when the black person is Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Alan Keyes, or Condoleezza Rice.

If McCain picks Romney as many media outlets are claiming, it will be a ticket of multi-millionaires with their megamansions. They make John Edwards look like a pauper! So, I hope they cut the "common man" bullshit because that's what it is. Republican politicians are richer than most Americans can ever dream of being. For them to deny who they are is insulting. And if they are so ashamed of being rich, then give it away!

I found it interesting that McCain told Reverend Rick Warren that he considered a person wealthy if they had more than $5 million! Damn...and here I was thinking that if you make more than $200,000, you're rich in my eyes (especially when I'm struggling to find a job that pays $30,000). I'm sick of all these rich people pretending to be non-elitist.

John, I admire you, but you are a rich mo-fo and don't deny it. If you're ashamed of your wealth, then send me $50,000. I could certainly put it to good use. But you lose credibility when you compare Obama to Britney Spears (who is a blind Bush supporter who told reporters that Americans should just believe everything Bush says because he's the president and he'd never lie to us) and Paris Hilton, and accuse him of being an elitist. In my opinion, it's hard to picture any African American as an elitist because they have been denied political power for most of our nation's history. And if Obama wins the presidency, the Senate...that most exclusive club in the world...will once again be without a single black Senator. Who's the true elitist, Mr. Many Mansions? Better take a long look in that cracked mirror of yours.