Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

I will admit up front that I’m not an undecided voter. The Democratic party basically has me in their pocket, at least until a more liberal national party develops. In theory I’d love to say that I’m an independent who will vote for whomever’s policies I like best. In reality, that’s basically always the Democrats.

I’m also not a low-information voter, being young and all fired up about this stupid election. Thus, I’m not really the intended audience for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. I watch them anyway, obviously biased, yelling things at McCain while peeling apples for apple pie and thinking, Damn! Obama’s presidential. Honestly, it’s boring, I pretty much know what their stances are, and where I don’t it’s about 10-1 that I’ll agree with the guy on the left anyway.

Here, then, are five better ways to watch presidential candidates face off.


You may think that “fisticuffs” is simply an old-timey word for fighting. You would be wrong. Technically it’s bare-knuckle boxing, and dammit, there are rules, just like the debate! You can’t strike a downed opponent, gotta stay in the ring, get up within thirty seconds or you lose, etc. Two people are chosen at random from the audience (undecided voters?) to be the umpires. Plus, it actually causes less brain damage than the gloved version, as there’s less hitting since it hurts your hand more. Finally, it would really increase the likelihood of bringing excellent facial hair back into presidential vogue.

Outcome: Obama. McCain has a slight problem raising his hands above shoulder-level.


I like this one as something with a Town Hall style format. The candidates would come in, stand on separate dance floors, and audience members would request dances. Some sort of moderator would be there to limit time, and maybe help out the audience with what exactly we should be expecting. Both candidates would have to do the same dance, obviously, and we’d be watching for knowledge, interpretation, and the groove factor.

Outcome: Hard to say. Obama seems like he’s got better moves, but I hear McCain can jitterbug like a fiend.

Pub Quiz.

This one’s my own personal favorite form of competition–trivia plus booze. To those unfamiliar with this best of Satruday night activities, you go to a bar, you get beer, you get five of your friends to be on your team, and then you get to crush all your competition and go home victorious. Not only would the candidates need to know important information like where Shiprock is (New Mexico) or who sang “Eighteen and Life” (Skid Row), they’d need to choose teams wisely. That would get the VP candidates in on the game, finally. Plus, people are always deciding their votes on who they’d rather have a beer with.

Outcome: Obama. Palin all but sinks it for McCain, unless the category is “Towns in Alaksa I used to be Mayor of,” or “What should we do offshore?” Plus, I’ve got a hunch Obama would choose people with a wide range of expertise, while McCain would just choose four other old white guys who know where Vietnam is on the map.

Pistols at Dawn.

“Wait,” you say. “That seems awfully final and, well, violent, even for the American presidency.” Maybe, but the duel is a time-honored tradition with precedent, sort of. Andrew Jackson was big into dueling–mainly for his “wife’s honor”–and had several bullets lodged in him from this delightful pastime, including one in his lung and one two inches from his heart. He shot that guy after having a rib shattered by the bullet, by the way. And no one needs to be reminded about Hamilton vs. Burr. Not exactly presidential, but Founding Fatherly.

Outcome: McCain. Duh, he was in the Navy. Hey, have you heard about how he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam? It’s totally true.


If the economy’s going to be in the toilet, the least we can hope for is a president who knows how to put a hotel on the Boardwalk. Maybe they could pontificate a little on second mortgages while they play; if you flip over Virginia Ave to pay for Marvin Gardens, when you flip it back you’ll end up paying 150%. Of course, McCain would end up yelling about the free government handouts you get by passing Go, and there would be total pandemonium and accusations of racism the first time Obama landed in Jail.

Outcome: everyone loses in Monopoly.

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I’ll get back to folk music soon, but I want to comment on a trend I’m seeing in the sleazier attacks on Obama. I was watching CNN today, listening to whoever was on argue about whether Obama agreed with his crazy pastor or not. The answer to that question should not be hard to figure out. Just ask, “What does Obama say?” He says that he does not, in fact, agree with his crazy pastor. Then, to be extra sure, you might ask, “Has Obama agreed with his crazy pastor in the past?” Turns out that, no, he has never publicly accused the government of creating AIDS to oppress black people. So what, exactly, is the question here?

It occurred to me that the Rev. Wright pseudo-scandal is very similar to the Obama-went-to-a-madrassa-and-is-therefore-a-secret-muslim pseudo-scandal. Both seem dumb enough to dismiss easily, but both have stuck around for a surprisingly long time. And they both ask the same question – “What’s Obama hiding?” Usually, most political candidates aren’t accused of being double-agents, but I won’t be surprised if we see this question pop up again in another form soon.

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Wired has an article up about how the FBI purposefully delayed their investigation into the 2005 london bombings. It seems that an agent got some documents through a subpoena. The bosses want to get those documents through the Patriot Act (and set a precedent for getting documents without a subpoena), so they had the agent return the documents.

Look, this should not be that surprising. The FBI folks probably feel constrained by their dependence on judges to grant subpoenas. People chafe under authority – it’s human nature, everyone does it. The problem is that theĀ  FBI are supposed to be constrained by the judiciary. The US government was set up to spread the power around. The players try to pull the power towards themselves, and away from anyone who performs oversight on them (see also: the president).

All of this is normal. The problem is the response. When these power grabs are attempted, they need to be slapped down. The judiciary should be pushing back. Maybe the FBI had the greater good in mind – I honestly don’t know. But no matter how noble their intentions could well have been, there’s no knowing what future leadership will be like. Which is why they shouldn’t have the power to seize documents willy nilly.

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