Tag Archives: Politics

Big Sky, Big Money | Watch S30 E22 | FRONTLINE | PBS | Official Site

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/big-sky-big-money/

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Deciding Who to Vote For

Tomorrow is primary day in Virginia. Since we have open primaries here, you don’t have to be a registered Republican or Democrat in order to vote in the primary; the only rule is that you can only have one ballot on a given day, so if both parties have their primaries on the same day (like tomorrow), you have to pick which ballot you want. If they were held on separate days, you could vote in both.

I only decided that I’d vote in this primary a few days ago. The main reason for my ambivalence was that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to vote Democrat or Republican. I mean, I know which candidate I want for Governor, but I expect him to get the nomination, so it felt silly to actually bother voting in the primary. It was receiving a fabulous pamphlet in the mail (addressed to my husband, actually) that made me really care about the state delegate race. The reason I normally don’t care about the state delegates because the candidates usually don’t care; plus, I’m from Norfolk where the districts are usually not very competitive.

Since I was drawn towards voting for a specific candidate, deciding which ballot to choose tomorrow morning was easy: Democratic.

So, what follows is me examining the candidates to show why I will vote the way I’ll vote. And since I’m a glutton for punishment, I suspect I’ll be doing a similar review for the Republicans, though there will be a lot more partisanship for that one!

Governor:

The Democratic candidates for the Governorship are Ralph Northam and Tom Periello.

I’m 100% for Ralph. I’ve liked him ever since he ran for state senate. He doesn’t run negative ads and this is important to me. Yes, Political Action Committees (which I feel should be illegal) do send out negative ads to support him, but honestly, the one I have next to me right now from “Virginians for a Better Future” that says that Perriello “supported the controversial amendment to the Affordable Care Act that would have barred health insurance plans that cover abortion from receiving federal assistance”, which is true (Perriello doesn’t deny it), even if it is old. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that negative! If we divide a (roughly) 8.5×11 double sided ad into 4ths, 3/4ths of the ad is on topic while the negative is the last 4th. This is very different from most ads of the same size which are so entirely about the “bad” candidate that you don’t even know who you are supposed to vote for!

When I’m evaluating a candidate for voting, the only things that matter to me are good investigative journalism and their website. Negative ads will make me dislike a candidate, but sometimes they’re alright (I couldn’t get mad at Hillary’s negative ads about Trump because it was all shit he’d actually said).

A candidate’s website should have a minimum of two things: a good biography and a thorough issues page. I count too much reliance on news articles and videos as a negative.

I prefer that the issues be broken down into bullet points rather than long paragraphs. This is because in the real world of governance there will be compromise and I’ve found that it is more effective to start with simple ideas and hash out the gray areas during the debates. Too much detail implies that there won’t be enough room for compromise.

Really, Perriello and Northam end up looking very similar on their websites. It comes down to my own previous feelings on it and an issue I have with Perriello implying that he has an endorsement from Obama this election when he’s really using endorsements from his previous (successful) Congressional campaign. I don’t like subterfuge like this. For me, endorsements expire after the election is over and must be actively renewed to be valid. This is because the candidates are different for each specific election and if we were to assume that endorsements are always “the best of the options available” then changing the collection of candidates will change the dynamics of the options. If a candidate is the best of everyone conceivably possible then they will get an important endorsement every time it’s requested! Yes, it is important that Obama didn’t endorse Perriello during this cycle! I will not speculate as to the whys and it wouldn’t matter if we’re talking about the former president or the local newspaper: a lack of endorsement is a lack of endorsement.

Lt. Governor

This is the race that I’m really undecided for. I’m currently tempted to vote Republican for the November General Election, though it will depend on the actual candidates involved then.

Justin Fairfax, Susan Platt, and Gene Rossi are the candidates for this position.

First thing to note: McAfee is throwing up a warning about Susan Platt’s website. This is a wee bit concerning, but without knowing exactly what McAfee considers “risky behavior”, I can’t make a judgment one way or the other.

Let’s start with Rossi’s website because I’ve already looked at it earlier today and wasn’t impressed. His “priorities” page involves only 4 topics. Sorry, but he needs to have opinions on and plans for a lot more stuff and not just additions hidden within these 4 overarching topics. The other issue with Rossi is that this is a Virginia election. I was reading through his biography and realized that most of what he was saying involved Connecticut, where he was raised. Sure, he moved to Virginia in 1989, but the only thing it appears he’s done in Virginia is graduate 3 kids from a public school, work as a federal prosecutor, with a minor sentence about being on the board of a program that helps women after incarceration. Honestly, I think he should be running for FBI director!

Susan Platt’s website is still giving me fits. Now, it appears to have one of those “pop-ups” that has darkened the background to emphasize itself and is playing some kind of audio (there’s a video auto-playing), BUT I cannot locate the “pop-up” itself in order to close it and bring the main screen back up to full brightness.

User-friendly webdesign is really important to a good campaign! What’s funny is that this website worked fine on my tablet earlier today. Ooh! Esc worked to at least brighten up the page (closing out the hidden annoyance?). Still, she’s getting a frowny face right now from me.

I like that she has lots of work experience both in Washington and in Virginia. I feel that there are some jobs that benefit from a lot of specific experience in a few choice positions and some jobs benefit from a resume that appears to spread yourself too thin. For the higher levels of government, I think it’s important to have your hands in a lot of different pots simply because it indicates that you’ve interacted with a lot more people and are more prepared to work with people who have differing opinions.

Note: it looks like all 3 Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor are relatively new to elected positions in politics.

I love that Platt’s list of issues is extensive while being concise.

Okay, now for Justin Fairfax’s website.

He has way too much reliance on news articles! His “Frequently Asked Questions” is written in 3rd person and I don’t like that. I don’t want to know what other people say about him, I want to know what he says about what he’ll do. The saving grace of his website is that it is possible to find his campaign literature, which includes a concise, bullet pointed list of issues which sound like they could come out of his own mouth instead of being written by a friend about him. The problem is that you have to hunt and peck for this pdf.

I think I’ll vote for Mrs. Platt for Lt. Governor tomorrow.

State House: 64th District:

Rebecca Colaw, John Wandling, and Jerry Cantrell

I’ll start with the easy one: I had to use Google for Rebecca Colaw’s website because for whatever reason VA’s election commission didn’t have a direct link for her. This is a problem! I think that a state’s election commission should always be a person’s first stop for investigating the candidates and in 2017, not submitting a web address in time for it to go on their website is inexcusable.

Her work experience is the Air Force and being a lawyer, which is fine, but remember what I said about spreading yourself thin being an asset here? Yeah, some extra curriculars would go a long way.

As for her platform, it has many topics, is bullet-ed, but generally is too vague. Yes, apparently I’m very picky about this. There is being open to compromise, but there is also not having a solid plan to start with.

Anway, moving on.

John Wandling is a blogger (amongst other things). Hmm…This kind of turns me off. I mean, bloggers are great, but it doesn’t mean that we’re the best choice for government. This is because bloggers have their soapboxes. They have their rant-inducing issues. I know what mine are! But this is not necessarily good for governance! Remember that compromise thing?

His issues page only has 3 topics and ends with him telling us to go to his blog to see his opinions “on many subjects that might interest voters”. Uh, why not give us a concise and extensive list of these subjects and opinions right here on the page that is supposed to do this? I call this laziness in favor of an easier format.

I don’t want to make this final criticism, but I must. He’s an IT consultant, but his website looks like it belongs on Netscape…I guess I’m showing that I’m a millennial because I expect better from people working in the technology industry. Whereas Platt had too much, Wandling needs more.

Okay, I’ll finish with the guy who made me want to vote tomorrow. I didn’t look at his website earlier, so let’s hope that it’s as good as the pamphlet he sent.

Damn. How the heck did I pick the most Christian candidate available?!? Haha. Discalimer: He’s a Mormon, which I understand isn’t Christian according to many denominations of Christianity, though I certainly consider it Christian. He’s noticeably omitted any reference to women’s reproductive rights, which is unfortunate, but not unexpected. But, when you compare these three Democratic candidates, he has the most information on what he will do for healthcare and it is a very liberal platform. Only Colaw says that “women have the right to make their own choices”, but that’s it and it makes me uncomfortable to assume that this statement means she’ll approve broad protections for women when it could just as easily mean passing laws that close Planned Parenthood locations because their hallways are 6 inches too narrow so long as there is one location that exists in the state (Roe only provides that women be allowed to get abortions without unreasonable inconvenience, but doesn’t define what is unreasonable). Just because women have the choice doesn’t mean that the choice is an easily obtained one. This is why it’s important to write what you mean!

This is a relatively conservative part of Hampton Roads, VA, so I’m not surprised by any level of conservativeness on the part of Democrats. I prefer this middle ground.

 

 

I Am America (And So Can You!)

I really liked this book. I was slow to become a fan of Stephen Colbert even after I started watching his show. I thought him too crude and annoyingly stupid and preferred the more serious Jon Stewart’s straight-man portrayal of current events.

I still prefer Jon Stewart’s style, but I absolutely fell in love with Colbert when he really started his own Super PAC to show the public how completely screwed up the system is when it comes to political funding.

I Am America reads exactly like the Colbert Report segment “The Word”, including the handy notes in the margins and footnotes. This is definitely the book you hand without introduction to your slightly clueless ultra-conservative relatives and coworkers and see if their mind gets blown.

I thought the epilogue chapter that included his Press Association Dinner speech was interesting for a few different reasons. For one, I didn’t know much about the content of that speech except that when it ended the pundits didn’t know what the hell had just happened because no one knew that he was doing satire (they just thought him completely batshit crazy). Secondly, after reading the speech, I could conclude that half of it did indeed come across as completely batshit crazy, haha. For me, it read like a really awkward speech. There were moments of brilliance when Colbert shined with a well placed joke that was fully in character. There were moments when he seemed to fall out of character in order to do the standard shoutouts to folks in the crowd (the ones where he didn’t include a good joke). And then there were moments when what he was saying might have been in character, but was so completely in left field it just came across as stupid and not even remotely funny (actually, these moments weren’t presented the same way as the jokes, so maybe this was an attempt to stay in character while not saying something that’s supposed to be funny…I’m not sure). But then, I reminded myself that this speech was given in 2006. While the character of Stephen Colbert had been used on the Daily Show, he’d only had his own show for one season as of April 2006. In other words, at the time he was still working out the kinks in the character.

America is Number 1 Mouse Pad
America is Number 1 Mouse Pad by PunchDrunk
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I Don'T See Color T-shirt
I Don’T See Color T-shirt by worldsfair
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Sarah Palin, Going Rogue

From Booklist: “No good deed goes unpunished. Just ask Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s campaign manager and the guy who pushed Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate. Now, in Palin’s much-hyped book, he’s just a fat, smoking bullet-head who told her to “stick to the script.” The feeling running through Going Rogue is that Palin has been bursting to take a whack at those she believes didn’t do right by her during the campaign. (Katie Couric, we’re looking at you!) Before readers get to that, however, there’s personal biography. We’re introduced to Sarah the reader—loved to read—the basketball player, hunter, wife, mother. Then lots and lots of Alaska politics, which will probably be a little hard even for people from Alaska to plow through. (Scores are settled here, too.) Once Palin gets into the 2008 campaign, the tone is folksy, but the knives are out. Much has been made of her criticisms of Schmidt and another McCain staffer, Nicolle Wallace. But less has been said about Palin’s comments about Barack Obama. For instance, she notes that when she and husband Todd first heard Obama speak, they saw the wow factor but worried that his “smooth” talk would hide his radical ideas. She also implies that Obama wanted to shield only his own children from the press, though, in fact, in September 2008, he told CNN that Palin’s children must be off limits as well. Ronald Reagan’s name is mentioned by page 3 and invoked regularly throughout. There’s no doubt Palin sees herself as heir to his legacy. But many readers will see the Sarah Palin revealed in these pages as much closer to George Bush, someone you’d like to have a beer with. Or perhaps dinner: “I always remind people from outside our state that there’s plenty of room for all Alaska’s animals—right next to the mashed potatoes.” –Ilene Cooper

I read this because she’s just one of those figures that I needed to read her own words to figure out if she’s just misunderstood or really just nuts. Turns out she’s simply delusional. Here’s the short version for my reasoning: to “go rogue” one must be fighting against “the man”, but this book is filled with “here’s how ‘the man’ wanted to hold me down and see how I let him do that, but I’m a-gonna ‘go rogue’ now by tellin’ ya’ll that when I was letting the man hold me down, I was totally thinking “when I’m vice president, I’ll show you who’s boss”. She gives example after example after example of how she kept getting walked all over in politics while she apparently was thinking how moronic these guys all were. Like I’m going to vote for someone who is man-handled into clothes she didn’t want to wear because internally she’s thinking that it’s stupid and not her fault.

The other reason big why I don’t like Sarah Palin? Because if a vegan came to her house she’d hand them half a head of iceberg and call that dinner while her family eats moose stew. I’ll let you insert all the negative names I’m mentally calling her. I don’t care if she thinks being vegan or vegetarian is stupid, there are a half dozen equally easy ways to not be rude to a dinner guest.

Here’s some gifts that hopefully won’t offend anyone while still catering to a fan of this book. If you’re looking for something a bit more right-wing I’ll leave you to search on your own.

Divide and Conquer 2016 Bumper Sticker

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