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Monday, June 30, 2008

Quitters, Inc.

GOP faithful brace for losses this year:

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY . . .that's WAY too funny on many levels) is already conceding defeat for his party this November. During an interview with CNN’s Late Edition, McConnell told guest host Candy Crowley that the numbers were not in the GOP’s favor:

“We are not going to be back in the majority in the Senate next year,” said McConnell. “The numbers make that impossible.”

Senate Republicans face grim conditions heading into this election cycle - Five GOP senators are retiring this year: Sen. Wayne Allard (CO), Sen. John Warner (VA), Sen. Pete Domenici (NM), Sen. Chuck Hagel (NE), and Sen. Larry Craig (ID). Other Republicans are running in competitive elections, such as Norm Coleman (MN), who faces well-known comedian and outspoken Democrat Al Franken in November. It looks to be an especially bad year for Republicans named Mitch. . .

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"Dignity" - Latest Obama ad

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You Tell Me

Now this is taking organic to an entirely new level! It's Monday morning and time for you to caption this photo:


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Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Visit to the Toledo Zoo

We took a day away from things today, and traveled to the Toledo Zoo. One of the many nice things about being a member of the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is that your membership allows you free admission to many other zoos around the country. There are several within range of the Summit City that make for nice day trips, and with your membership card, you're only out the cost of fuel for you and the car. We were going to go yesterday, but Toledo was experiencing the same weather as we were yesterday, and today's forecast promised overcast but dry skies.

So, of course, it began drizzling nearly the second we crossed into Lucas County. . .we had to duck into doorways a few times after arriving but, overall, we stayed fairly dry. Check out the face on this big guy. . .

Not every exhibit is "family friendly". . .we had to explain that one of the turtles was "just giving the other one a really big hug". . .

For some reason, I couldn't get that old song by Sir Mix-a-lot out of my head after this exhibit. . .

On the way home, we made a detour to Independence Dam State Park, where we watched a guy reel in a catfish that wasn't quite as big as this one at the zoo's aquarium. . .

'rangs are always as fun as a barrel full of monkees, ahem, and this one decided to climb onto the acrylic ceiling over our heads and stick out his tongue. . .

I heartily recommend the Toledo Zoo to other families. There's definitely something for everyone's interests, the food and giftshop prices are reasonable, and there's a nice mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits; an important feature on a questionable weather day like today. It's easy to spend an entire day there and, with the improvements being made to US 24, the drive will continue to get better and better. It was just under two hours from here in Aboite to the zoo's front entrance.

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Crazyman Explains Oil Price Speculation

Author T.E.Scott, aka Crazyman, explains why oil prices are where they are today and who's REALLY to blame. This is a subject that I've been harping on myself as of late. I had the opportunity to meet Mr.Scott at the Democratic State Convention last weekend and obtain a copy of his book, "Crazyman's Economics".

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Teen Decapitated by Six Flags Coaster

Another horrible amusement park accident unfolded this afternoon; this time at the Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, Georgia. At 2:30 today, a teenager was decapitated by the 50 mph Batman coaster after entering a restricted area around the attraction:

Park spokeswoman Hela Sheth said in a news release the 17-year-old scaled two six-foot fences that were clearly marked with signs that read "Danger" and "Do Not Enter."

"We do not know why this person was intent on gaining access to this restricted area," Sheth said. She did not identify the teenager.

"Some witnesses have stated that the individual was trying to retrieve something he had lost. Others reported that he was trying to touch the ride. This is merely speculation at this point, and we are working with park visitors and local police to learn more."

In May 2002, 58-year-old groundskeeper Samuel Milton Guyton of Atlanta was killed after he wandered in a restricted area under the Batman roller coaster's path and was struck in the head by the dangling leg of one of the ride's passengers. The ride was closed for a day to allow the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inspect the ride. It was deemed safe for passengers.

Last year, a teenager's legs were severed when cables snapped on the Superman Tower of Power ride at the Louisville, Kentucky Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. Doctors were able to reattach Kaitlyn Lasitter's right foot, but she had to have some of her left leg amputated and subsequent surgeries.

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Dive for Lighter leads to Hole Lotta Trouble

What NOT to do when you drop your lighter into a hole. . .

This obviously impaired dude jumped into a hole that had been dug for a new light post after dropping his bic into it. He was stuck for two hours:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


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The Cost of War

A nice flash presentation of the cost of the war in Iraq:


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Friday, June 27, 2008

Joe Cocker captioned

Finally, via the magic of captions, we learn just what in the hell Joe was singing at Woodstock back in the day. . .

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Friday Nite Retro

TGIF! (Thank God it's Forbert that is!) Tonight's featured FNR artist is native Mississippian Steve Forbert. You likely know him for his song "Romeo's Tune", which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980. That was a very special song to this then 15-year old young man. . .

Although Forbert wrote the song about a girl from his home town of Meridian, Mississippi, he dedicated it "to the memory of Florence Ballard" on the sleeve of the album, Jackrabbit Slim. Forbert admits that Ballard became a timely connection for "Romeo's Tune". Ballard spent much of the last five years of her life in relative poverty before dying in 1976 at the age of thirty-two. "That seemed like such bad news to me and such sad news. She wasn't really taken care of by the music business, which is not a new story" .

Critics hailed him at the time as "The new Bob Dylan" because of a similar vocal timbre and thoughtful songwriting. The front cover of his second album, Jackrabbit Slim encourages such comparisons with its simplicity: a black and white photo of Forbert playing a well-worn Martin acoustic guitar with a capo on it, his shirt tinted green. The record was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee and produced by John Simon who had worked with The Band.

Romeo's Tune

This song, well under the radar of nearly everyone, was the flip side of Romeo's Tune. Though usually not one for B sides, I absolutely loved this heart breaker:

Make it all so Real

Forbert also made a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" video, playing her boyfriend - Steve makes his entrance at 3:48 in the video:

Steve doesn't much care for the oil companies. This is an older song of his, updated for this performance:

Oil Song

Here's a more recent song:

It Sure Was Better Back Then

As well as a recent interview:

Steve is still very active - check out his official website for more information.

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Barack and Hilary in Unity

Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton address united democrats from Unity, New Hampshire - where each received exactly 107 votes in the New Hampshire Primary:

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Send Congress an S.O.S.

Click graphic below to go there

Speculators and investment banks can game the energy trading markets, using loopholes in commodities law to drive up the cost of energy and reap record profits… at the expense of American families and small businesses!

One of the biggest factors in high oil prices, according to many experts, is that investors, such as hedge funds and investment bankers, can use loopholes in commodities law to manipulate the market and drive crude oil, heating oil, gasoline and diesel fuel prices to new heights.

Congress is aware of the problem and lawmakers recently passed legislation to address the “Enron Loophole,” one of the major loopholes that opens the door to abusive trading practices, but the law didn’t go far enough.

Unfortunately, other loopholes exist that allow energy trading on completely “dark” exchanges. For example, the “Foreign Markets Loophole” allows American energy commodities to be traded overseas – exempt from U.S. oversight.

These so-called “Dark Markets” – commodities markets that are not policed by U.S. authorities provide for an open the door to manipulation, even outright control of the markets.

For example, speculative investors can buy and sell millions of barrels of U.S. destined oil and other energy products every day in the United Kingdom and even in Dubai… but are not made subject to the transparency and accountability laws that govern exchanges here in the United States!

Additionally, through the so-called “swaps loophole,” financial investors can “game the markets” for pure profit by buying up positions in the energy markets, without any limitation on the size of the positions they can take. One recent estimate suggested that they now control one third of the commodities markets, or $150 billion - a 1,000% increase in less than five years!

Some experts believe that as much as 60 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline or heating oil can be attributed to pure speculation and abusive –even manipulative – trading practices, yet most trading is “dark” and federal authorities can neither fully police or see the data in the majority of the trading markets.

The energy trading markets were originally set up to provide energy producers and distributors with an environment to manage risk and produce the best possible price for their customers. But they are clearly no longer the driving force in the market. Profiteering speculators and investment banks care little about establishing a price for energy based on supply and demand fundamentals – they care about turning a PROFIT.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Screw it, I'm in!

Please make a contribution today:


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Mika Brzezinski meets Ralph the Dog

Regular listeners of The Lionel Show on Air America are familiar with the host's distaste for Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC. Lionel often complains that Mika is there for no apparent reason as she adds little to the program other than uttering nonsensical words and grunts rather than actually engaging in any dialogue. During this morning's episode of Morning Joe, Richard Belzer appeared and both remembered George Carlin and promoted a pet adoption project he is working on. The dog which Belzer brought with him apparently shared Lionel's distaste for Mika. . .forward to just before the seven minute mark:

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Jim Hightower on The Lionel Show

"The people are revolting; in the very best sense of that term"!

Lionel and Jim Hightower discuss the new politics of "change" that's sweeping the country. Hightower hopes that we'll all join him in the "great flush off" on January 20th, 2009. He can't call it a "green" event, but it will most certainly be a "brown" one:

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How James Dobson is HELPING Obama

A large number of Evangelical Christians have banded together to support Barack Obama for president; and they take offense to remarks made by James Dobson about their candidate:

Dr. James Dobson recently attacked Barack Obama for a 2006 speech that Obama gave on his Christian faith. Does he speak for you?

James Dobson doesn't speak for me.

He doesn't speak for me when he uses religion as a wedge to divide;

He doesn't speak for me when he speaks as the final arbiter on the meaning of the Bible;

James Dobson doesn't speak for me when he uses the beliefs of others as a line of attack;

He doesn't speak for me when he denigrates his neighbor's views when they don't line up with his;

He doesn't speak for me when he seeks to confine the values of my faith to two or three issues alone;

What does speak for me is David's psalm celebrating how good and pleasant it is when we come together in unity;

Micah speaks for me in reminding us that the Lord requires us to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with Him;

The prophet Isaiah speaks for me in his call for all to come and reason together and also to seek justice, encourage the oppressed and to defend the cause of the vulnerable;

The book of Nehemiah speaks for me in its example to work with our neighbors, not against them, to restore what was broken in our communities;

The book of Matthew speaks for me in saying to bless those that curse you and pray for those who persecute you;

The words of the apostle Paul speak for me in saying that words spoken and deeds done without love amount to nothing.

The apostle John speaks for me in reminding us of Jesus' command to love one another. The world will know His disciples by that love.

These words speak for me. But when James Dobson attacks Barack Obama, James Dobson doesn't speak for me.

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Obama leads McCain in 4 Battleground States

Add Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to the list of states where Barack Obama leads John McSame. Four Quinnipiac University polls released today reflect the following numbers:

* Colorado: Obama leads McCain 49 - 44 percent, including 51 - 39 percent among independent voters.

* Michigan: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent, with 46 - 38 percent among independents.

* Minnesota: Obama buries McCain 54 - 37 percent, and 54 - 33 percent with independents.

* Wisconsin: Obama leads McCain 52 - 39 percent, and 50 - 37 percent with independents.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

June 22 by the numbers

"The fourth sign of the zodiac, Cancer is the astrological sign for people born between June 22 and July 22. The crab symbolizes Cancer, the first water sign of the zodiac. According to astrologers, Cancerians are strongly protective of those they love, and also exhibit highly developed imagination, discipline, and intuition. Cancerians typically have a moody demeanor that correlates with the different stages of their ruling celestial body, the moon."

The fact that I lost my favorite comedian, George Carlin, on the day of my birth was not lost on me. Via Wikipedia, I decided to see what else had happened on that day.

Turns out that I share an exact birthdate with two current celebs; Amy Brenneman, star of NYPD Blue and Judging Amy, and Dan Brown, author of The Davinci Code.

In addition, the following famous people share my birth month and day:

1903 - John Dillinger, American bank robber (d. 1934)
1922 - Bill Blass, American fashion designer (d. 2002)
1933 - Dianne Feinstein, American politician
1936 - Kris Kristofferson, American singer/songwriter and actor
1941 - Ed Bradley, American journalist (d. 2006)
1943 - Brit Hume, American news anchor and commentator
1947 - Howard Kaylan, founding member of The Turtles
1948 - Todd Rundgren, American songwriter and record producer
1949 - Meryl Streep, American actress
1949 - Lindsay Wagner, American actress
1949 - Alan Osmond, American singer
1952 - Graham Greene, Canadian actor
1953 - Cyndi Lauper, American singer
1954 - Freddie Prinze, American actor and comedian (d. 1977)
1956 - Tim Russ, American actor
1955 - Green Gartside, Welsh singer songwriter (Scritti Politti)
1957 - Garry Gary Beers, Australian bassist from group INXS
1960 - Erin Brockovich
1970 - Steven Page, Canadian singer (Barenaked Ladies)
1973 - Carson Daly, American television personality
1974 - Donald Faison, American actor(Scrubs)

Looks like I find myself in some very good company! Hopefully I'll not join the second part of this list - who wants to expire on one's birthday??

The following celebs share Carlin's exit on the date of my birth:

1969 - Judy Garland, American singer and actress (b. 1922)
1987 - Fred Astaire, American dancer and actor (b. 1899)
1993 - Pat Nixon, First Lady of the United States (b. 1912)
2002 - Ann Landers, American columnist (b. 1918)
2006 - Moose (dog actor), dog actor popular for role on Frasier (b. 1990)
2008 - Dody Goodman, American comedienne (b. 1914)

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The 25 Best High-Tech Pranks

Everyone loves a good laugh, and in the age of electronics, high-tech hijinks are just waiting to be pulled off. So snuggle up to your screen and get ready to unleash all sorts of shenanigans as we present the 25 best high-tech pranks known to man. Our apologies in advance to your friends and co-workers:

1. The Restart Remap

We start with one sure to throw off even the most advanced Windows user. Setup is simple and you need only a few seconds alone on someone’s computer. When you get a chance, sneak over and right-click your pal’s icon to Internet Explorer or some other commonly used program. Edit the properties and change the target to: “%windir%\system32\shutdown.exe -r -t 00″ Now, every time your buddy tries to run IE, his machine will mysteriously restart — and your laughter will instantly result.

2. Startup Folder Fun

While we’re on the topic of system startups, the Windows Startup folder is a fantastic place for fun. Create a text file with an amusing message and throw it in there so your cubicle mate will get a daily greeting — or, if you really want to get evil, add in the restart shortcut from above (not recommended unless you just want to get your ass kicked).

3. Disappearing Desktop

A classic computer prank never goes out of style. The desktop image trick has been around for a bit, but rest assured: There are plenty of unsuspecting victims still to be found. Just head over to an unattended computer, minimize all the windows, and hit the Print Screen key. Paste the captured image into any graphic editing program — even Microsoft Paint will do — then save the file and set it as the desktop background. Then, all you have to do is hide the actual icons on the desktop — put them in a folder somewhere — and your victim will try endlessly to click the nonexistent icons, which are actually just part of the background image. For another variation, leave one program open when you capture the screen and watch as the person tries to click on it, type in it, and close it to no avail.

4. Auto-Insult

There are few things funnier than forcing a friend to insult himself — and Microsoft has made it easy to do just that. Take a moment to edit the Autocorrect feature in your colleague’s Word or Outlook (it’s in the Tools menu in both programs). Add a new entry to replace their name with “douche,” and watch how much more interesting all their emails and documents will suddenly become. A little creativity can take this one in plenty of different and equally entertaining directions.

5. Serius Buisness

While you’re in the Word or Outlook settings, another good place to tamper is the dictionary. Replace a few correct words with common misspellings just for giggles. Just be sure to let this one play out and get resolved before your co-worker sends any official memos to the entire corporation.


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SNL this Saturday - Must See TV

SNL producer Lorne Michaels has announced that the show's original debut from October 11, 1975 will be reran in it's entirety this Saturday, live from Studio 8H. The replay is in tribute to George Carlin, who hosted that very first Saturday Night Live 33 years ago:

Said SNL creator and exec producer Lorne Michaels in a release today: "You never forget the people who were there at the beginning. George Carlin helped give 'Saturday Night Live' its start as our first host. He was gracious, fearless, and most important of all, funny."

The musical guests for the debut episode were Janis Ian and Billy Preston, with a special performance from Andy Kaufman. Carlin performed three monologues, and it was the debut of future stars like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd and Gilda Radner. It also featured a short film by Albert Brooks; Five-Timers Club member Paul Simon announcing that he'd be hosting the next week; the Bees, which became the first-ever SNL recurring characters; and, oddly, The Muppets.

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LIEberman must GO

The latest feature from Brave New Films:

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Carlin Memorium on HBO

George Carlin has done 14 specials for HBO. In his memory they are replaying some of them this week.

Carlin on HBO2

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Obama's "Shock and Awe"

According to Evan Tracey, CNN's consultant on political television advertising, Barack Obama's decision to forgo public financing for his presidential campaign provides him with the tools needed to implement a "Shock and Awe" television ad strategy designed to paralyze John McCain's campaign.

The better-funded Obama is likely to force McCain to spend money on TV ads in Arkansas, Georgia and North Carolina, said Tracey. At this point in the campaign, these are states that CNN projects McCain has an edge over the Illinois Democrat, but by no means are these states safely in the Arizona Republican's column.

Obama is expected to raise three or four times the $85 million he would have received from the public financing system, providing him with a huge financial advantage over McCain, who has opted to take the public funds. Click the screen below to watch Tracey discuss Obama's advantage:

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Montagano added to DCCC's "emerging candidates" list

Some great new news (Okay, I heard about it several days ago, but great news nonetheless! I received the following email today from the Michael Montagano campaign, and would like to share it with you here. Please help in any way that you can. We simply cannot allow another term for Mark Souder, any more than we can allow a third Bush McCain term.


Dear Montagano for Congress supporter,

I have some very exciting news for you. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) just announced that our campaign has been added to their Red to Blue "Emerging Candidate" list. I am now the only democratic challenger in Indiana, one of few from the Midwest, one of only 50 nationwide to secure this national party recognition.

By adding us to the "Emerging Candidate" list, the national party has expressed confidence that I will be the next congressman from Indiana.

It's a reflection of what we have known for a while: That Northeast Indiana is hungry for change, that I will deliver it, and that Mark Souder is extremely vulnerable.

But now is not the time to celebrate… we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

We have less than seven days before the end of this reporting quarter, June 30, 2008, to raise the necessary funds to get our message out there. We have launched an initiative to raise $50,000 in our last week.

We are asking each website visitor to consider a small contribution of $25, $50 or $100 dollars to our campaign today. Click here to make your secure online contribution to our campaign:

Bye Bye to Marky Mark

I thank you for your consideration of this contribution and I look forward to working with you on the way to victory in November.


Mike Montagano

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A SECOND poll shows Obama 15 Points Ahead

Two days ago I wrote about a Newsweek poll that had Barack Obama opening up a 15 point lead over John McCain. Many, myself included, concluded that the poll must have been a fluke as most other recent polling showed a much smaller edge for Barack. I am happy to report that a Bloomberg/L.A.Times poll released today also shows a 15 point spread between the two candidates:

Democrat Barack Obama has opened a 15-point lead in the presidential race, and most of the political trends -- voter enthusiasm, views of President George W. Bush, the Republicans, the economy and the direction of the country -- point to even greater trouble for rival John McCain.

Illinois Senator Obama, winning support from once skeptical women and Democrats, beats McCain 48 percent to 33 percent in a four-way race, a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll shows. Independent candidates Bob Barr and Ralph Nader get 7 percent combined, with the remainder undecided.

Obama's margin and most of the poll's findings in other areas give the Democrats a commanding advantage more than four months before the November election, says Susan Pinkus, the Los Angeles Times polling director.

``The Obama voters are much more energized and motivated to come out to vote than the McCain voters; McCain is still struggling to win over some of his core groups,'' she says. ``The good news for Obama is also that he seems to be doing better on the issue that is uppermost in voters' minds, and that is the economy.''

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Dody Goodman has died at 92

Rest in Peace, "Blanche":

Dody Goodman, whose ditzy comic persona was well known to patrons of theater, film and television from the 1950s on, died yesterday at the Actors Fund Home in New Jersey. Her age was beleived to be 92, though the subject of her birthdate was something she was known to falsify throughout her career.

Ms.Goodman was a regular on The Tonight Show with both Jack Parr and, later, Johnny Carson. Her best known roles to most were those of Martha Shumway in the widely praised, albeit short-lived, mock soap opera "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," and the much-commented-upon supporting turn as Blanche Hodel in the film version of "Grease." She was also a semi-regular on the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes".

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George Carlin has died at 71

Legendary comedian has "gone to find a place for his stuff":

I had only a few minutes to post this sad event this morning before leaving for work. So much more needs to be said, but so many others will perform that job. George, thanks for providing some sanity in this fucked up world of ours.

From CNN:

Comedian-actor George Carlin, known for his raunchy, but insightful humor, died Sunday in Los Angeles, his publicist said. He was 71. Carlin performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. Jeff Abraham says Carlin went into St. John's Health Center on Sunday afternoon, complaining of chest pain. Carlin died at 5:55 p.m. PDT, The Associated Press reported.

I didn't discover George Carlin until the early '80's, via his HBO specials. After the first, I never missed another one through the years. I taped the ones from the early years. When I say "taped", I'm talking audio cassette recorder. . .I can't possibly cover all of his best work - it was ALL best work! Some of my favorites that come to mind at this particular moment:

"Someday you'll find your cat behind the sofa recuperating from a domestic accident: 'Tried to make the window. . .from the chair. Fucking meow. Fucking MEOW.' "

"The United States follows the big dick theory of warfare - 'What? They have bigger dicks?? Let's BOMB them!!' "

The Dan and Marilyn Quayle bit in the second video above (go back and watch it!)

"Things you've never heard before - 'Just as soon as I shove this red hot poker up my ass, I'm going to cut my dick off! No one has ever said that before; I'M the FIRST!' "

"Have you ever run across something in your refrigerator that you couldn't identify at all? Could be meat. . .might be cake. . .Honey, what is this? I don't know, what's it smell like? (sniff) Actually. . .it has no smell whatsoever. . .It's good! Put it back! Somebody's saving it!"

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You Tell Me

Is this a photo of me after all of the hospitality suites were shut down the evening prior to the state convention? HELL no! Pruitt kept the hops hopping after our congress critters departed the facilities, and we rocked on til the wee hours! Still, since it IS Monday morn, YOU give ME your best caption for this photo:


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Obama leads McCain 51 - 36

According to the latest Newsweek poll, Democrats have pulled together after the contentious primary season this year and are ready to rally behind Barack Obama:

In the previous NEWSWEEK Poll, completed in late May when Clinton was still fighting him hard for the Democratic nomination, Obama managed no better than a 46 percent tie with McCain. But as pollster Larry Hugick points out, that may have had a lot to do with all the mutual mudslinging going on between the two Democrats. By contrast, in recent weeks Clinton has not only endorsed Obama but has made plans to campaign with him. "They were in a pitched battle, and that's going to impact things. Now that we've gotten away from that period, this is the kind of bounce they've been talking about," said Hugick.

The poll results also reflect a large party-identification advantage for Democrats as we head into the general election. 55% of all voters call themselves Democrats or say they lean toward the party while just 36% call themselves Republicans or lean that way.

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Birthday Wishes from Mike

I received this is my inbox early this morning:

Today IS my birthday. However, 102.9 Mike FM ceased operations nearly two years ago. From Variety Hits:
All Access reports that Ft. Wayne is about to lose its Variety Hits outlet, 102.9 Mike FM (WXKE), effective August 31, 2006. The station will flip to a simulcast of Adult Standards WGL (1250 The River) and the WXKE call letters will be moving to the 103.9 frequency, resurrecting Rock 104 in the market. Adult Standards had been the format on 102.9 prior to the debut of Mike FM.
The local "Mike" was part of a nationwide network of stations using Mike, Jack, Dave or Bob as their name and playing pretty much whatever they felt like rather than sticking to one genre. Apparently some small piece of Mike is still out there, Max Headroom style. . .

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Live from The Indiana Democratic Convention Finale

Much like her running mate, Jill talked up the opportunities that she had experienced growing up and how each generation improved over it's predecessor. She discussed the need to preserve these opportunities for future generations. Long recalled the days when Indiana stood out as a state with high-paying jobs and seemingly endless opportunity, and rallied that we must return our great state to it's former stature.

She used an analogy of her families old farm homestead, which was modernized several times over the years as electricity and indoor plumbing were introduced. Much like that old house, the state of Indiana must keep it charm and purity as we update it to today's needs and standards. She vowed to restart Indiana's economy and stop job losses, giving back what she was given by the schools she attended here.

Jill's first act as governor will be to reinstate collective bargaining for state employees and concentrate on economic development. She stated that one of the most important differences between her plan and Mitch Daniels is that hers will WORK. She will target small and medium business growth in the state without any free rides, and update our tax system to the 21st century. She will diversify the economy and explore development of renewable resources.

Most importantly, she will stop and reverse the privatization efforts of Mitch Daniels. . .

That's the end of this report. I like to offer a huge "Thank You" to Thomas Cook of Blue Indiana for securing press credentials, a blogging area, and even hard-wired internet acess!


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Live from The Indiana Democratic Convention 2-3 PM

Linda Pence spoke at length about her passion for justice, declaring that "I'm not afraid of the big boys, I relish the battle". She punctuated each story of her past successes with the rallying cry from those who counted on her each time, "Linda is our lawyer"!

Mr.Dominguez then introduced Speaker of the House Patrick Bauer who declared "This is our year"! Adding that, "four years ago a dark cloud descended upon our state and begin selling everything off". Speaker Bauer is a phenomenal speaker and drew many laughs and rounds of applause as he highlighted the gaffes of the Daniels mis-administration. Bauer then placed the nomination of Dennie Oxley for Lieutenant Governor on the floor. Again quickly seconded and approved.

Dennie Oxley discussed his Southern Indiana roots and upbringing, thanking his wife, kids, parents, and grandfather who were all in attendance. Oxley recounted the opportunites for success, and discussed his concern that the Daniel's mis-administration has destroyed many ofthe very opportunities afforded to Oxley as a young man. He provided staggering statistics on Indiana's unemployment and poverty levels, declaring that he could go on and on with the failures of Mitch Daniels. Oxley stated "Daniels is the governor of an island, alright. Fantasy Island"!

Jeff Pruitt of Fort Wayne Politics had to leave to catch an ealy flight; I will continue to report from the blogger's box, and Robert Rouse has conducted several interveiws outside the hall as well.

Next up is a video biography for Jill Long-Thompson. A well-crafted piece which highlighted Jill's drive to acheive and succeed; it drew applause for cameos by Birch Bayh, Randy Schmidt, Judy O'Bannon, Wayne Townshend, and Evan Bayh. These folks all discussed the contrasts between Long-Thompson and misguidance of Mitch Daniels. Mick Long, Jill's younger brother, took the stage to introduce his sister as the Democratic nominee for governor. Mick stated that his grandmother, who didn't have the right to vote as young woman, would be so proud to see her granddaughter elected Indiana's first female governor two generations later.

The crowd went wild as Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" played to a sea of Jill2008 signs. Jill took the stage declaring the she "loves all of her friends here". We friends loudly returned our affection for her as well. She then thanked family members and everyone who's worked to help her reach this pinnacle.


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Live from The Indiana Democratic Convention 1-2 PM

Andre Carson opened the convention with a clarion call to Democrats, stating that we simply must not allow the failed Bush policies to continue under a third term, via John McCain. Carson noted that we the people are where change comes from.

District 3 delegates to the National Convention include Graham Richard and Sofia Rodriguez, who both worked hard for Senator Obama this year in Allen County.

2326 delegates were allotted to the counties, 1711 were seated this morning.

The Permanent Chair for this convention, Roy Dominguez of Lake County, was introduced by temporary chair Dan Parker. Mr.Dominguez spoke to our Democratic values, and challenged the party faithful to "make it happen" on all election levels this year.

Dr.Richard Wood was nominated for Superintendent of Public Instruction; seconded and approved. Wood promised a positive campaign and vowed to improve Indiana's schools as a means to improve our next generation and entice new employers to our state. He vowed to give our children the means and opportunities to succeed.

A video was played which discussed how Linda Pence took on Shell Oil for local franchise owners as well as her work on the White River fish kill investigation. Mrs.Pence was then nominated for Attorney General by former AG Pam Carter. She was quickly seconded and approved.


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1st Report from Indy

Not much to report at this juncture. Robert Rouse and I are set up at the media table in the main convention room, and we'll report more once the convention officially kicks off at 1 PM.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama's new logo

Have you seen Obama's new logo? Check it out at u-blog-press

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Obama: The 500 Million Dollar Man

Via: ABC News

Barack Obama's refusal of public financing for his campaign opens up the possibility for him to outspend John McCain by 3-to-1 or more in the general election. With the possibility of spending perhaps $500 million just in the final two months of the campaign, Obama will be the first major-party candidate to enjoy a spending edge in the general election in more than 30 years. The comparison with the consistently cash-strapped McCain campaign could hardly be more stark.

While McCain, who on Thursday said he will accept public financing, will be limited to spending only $84.1 million between the Republican National Convention and Election Day, Obama will be free to raise and spend unlimited amounts — with advertising specialists and party insiders projecting that he will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, utilizing and expanding on the most efficient fundraising operation in American political history.

Some party strategists say Obama could use his immense cash advantage to run a national ad campaign akin to marketing drives run by companies like McDonald's and Nike, while simultaneously engaging in targeted, state-level organizing that could leave McCain on the defensive in states that have rarely been competitive in years past.

Yesterday, Obama released his first ad since wrapping up the Democratic nomination, and it hints at the potential scope of ad buys to come. The ad is running in 18 states, including perennial Republican strongholds Alaska, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, and North Dakota, as well as classic swing states Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

"If the ad buy looks like this in October, this election's over," said Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "He's competing in red states, and he doesn't even feel he needs to advertise in blue states."

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John McCain didn't really love America

Republicans have hammered Michelle Obama for her remarks in February that she was proud of America "for the first time in my adult life." Tonight, however, Dan Abrams showed footage he uncovered of a Fox News interview with John McCain on March 13, 2008, in which McCain said, "I didn't really love America until I was deprived of her company."

For the first time in my life, I'm truly proud of Dan Abrams. . .

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The Enron Loophole

I had meant to blog about this earlier this week, but got sidetracked by other stories. Now I don't need to as Keith Olbermann has done it for me. People, THIS is why oil is as high as it is right now. Supply and demand has NOTHING to do with it! Watch, learn, and be sick to your stomach:

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Country I Love" - Obama's 1st General Election Ad

Coming tomorrow to tv's in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia:

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Obama Opts Out of Public Financing

In this video message to supporters, Barack Obama announced today that he is opting out of the public financing system, forgoing "more than $80 million in public funds" for the more bountiful loot that could await him later and allow him greater reach with the 50 state strategy. Obama becomes the first modern presidential candidate to run a race solely on the back of private funds.

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Creepy John McCain Shower Scene

Check out this video of John McCain playing a creepy husband on Saturday Night Live back in 2002:

Here's the full length (and superior quality) clip from SNL:

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"William - You can have him"

I love me a good parody, and 23/6 delivers once again. Two days ago, I posted the AFSCME hosted video "Not Alex", which featured a young mother fawning over her firstborn and declaring him "off limits" to John McCain's future military exploits.

23/6's ad feature's a mother who dotes far less on her child:

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

LS9 Inc. working on "renewable petroleum"

Greg Pal, a former software executive, is a senior director of LS9, one of several companies in the Silicon Valley area that have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil from foreign nations obsolete. While Bushies and other conservatives push for environmentally destructive domestic drilling, and many others work to re-engineer the problem via conversion to hydrogen and other fuel sources, Pal and his peers are working on a product that is fully interchangeable with oil, yet is renewable and even carbon negative.

“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Pal, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

The man is talking about bugs. More precisely, the genetic alteration of bugs – microscopic ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil. Perhaps someone somewhere, commenting on the dwindling amount of natural crude oil, was told "What would you like me to do, shit you some"? Probably not, but somehow, more likely through some serious scientific research and experimentation, that exact scenario has come to pass.

In an interview earlier this month, Pal held up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of your car right now. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. "After that", he grinned, “it’s a brave new world”.

Even the oil industry has taken notice. LS9's president, Bob Walsh, left a 26-year career at Shell to head the company's operations. If an old-time oil man like Walsh drops out of the game to work in a glorified cubicle in a San Francisco industrial park for a company that describes itself as being “pre-revenue”, there must be something to this whole thing. In another sign of the seriousness of this venture, a portion of the $20 million of start-up capital from investors includes Vinod Khosla, the Indian-American entrepreneur who co-founded Sun Micro-systems.

Mr Pal explains the process:

"LS9’s bugs are single-cell organisms, each a fraction of a billionth the size of an ant. They start out as industrial yeast or nonpathogenic strains of E. coli, but LS9 modifies them by custom-de-signing their DNA. Five to seven years ago, that process would have taken months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he says. “Now it can take weeks and cost maybe $20,000.”

Because crude oil is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it doesn't take much fiddling to get the desired result.All that's required for fermentation to take place is raw material, or feedstock, as it is known in the bio-fuels industry. Anything will do as long as it can be broken down into sugars, with the byproduct ideally burnt to produce electricity to run the plant.

LS9 is avoiding using corn as feedstock, given the much-publicised problems created by using food crops for fuel. Instead, the company will use different types of agricultural waste based upon whatever makes sense for the local climate and economy: wheat straw in California, for example, or wood chips in the South. Using the genetically modified bugs for fermentation is essentially the same as using natural bacteria to produce ethanol, although the energy-intensive final process of distillation is virtually eliminated because the bugs excrete a substance that is almost pump-ready.

The problem at this juncture remains as one of volume - thus far LS9 has only produced quantities vie a 1,000-litre fermenting machine, which produces the equivalent of one barrel a week and takes up 40 square feet of floor space.To meet America's weekly oil consumption of 143 million barrels, a facility covering 205 square miles, an area roughly the size of Chicago, would be required. Pal plans to have a demonstration-scale plant operational by 2010 and a commercial-scale facility by the following year. He notes that if LS9 used Brazilian sugar cane as its feedstock, its fuel would probably cost about $50 a barrel. I can live with that. How 'bout you?

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He Said it First

The latest viral video from Public Service Administration; since the press doesn't want to discuss John McCain's terms of endearment for his wife:

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Obama now leading in 3 battleground states

Via: Quinnipiac University

With strong support from women, blacks and younger voters, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the apparent Democratic presidential contender, leads Arizona Sen. John McCain, expected to be the Republican candidate, among likely voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to simultaneous Quinnipiac University Swing State polls released today.

This is the first time Sen. Obama has led in all three states. No one has been elected President since 1960 without taking two of these three largest swing states in the Electoral College. Results from the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University polls show:

  • Florida: Obama edges McCain 47 - 43 percent;
  • Ohio: Obama tops McCain 48 - 42 percent;
  • Pennsylvania: Obama leads McCain 52 - 40 percent.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Obama has large lead in Ohio

Via: Public Policy Polling - Hat Tip: Robert Rouse at Left of Centrist

Raleigh, N.C. June 16,2008 – Barack Obama kicks off the general election with a 50-39 lead over John McCain in Ohio, according to the newest survey from Public Policy Polling.
It’s a significant change from PPP’s most recent previous Ohio survey, conducted in
March, which found Obama trailing McCain 49-41 during the heart of the Jeremiah
Wright controversy.

Obama leads by equal margins among men and women, and has a four point lead with white voters while also holding a dominant 75-21 advantage with African Americans. The survey also found that Hillary Clinton could help him if she was on the ticket in Ohio. 19% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for Obama if he was her VP choice, while 15% said they would be less likely to support him.

“Barack Obama appears to be enjoying a strong unity bounce in Ohio,” said Dean
Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “He begins the general election campaign in a strong position in the state, and Ohio is one place where putting Senator Clinton on the ticket seems likely to give him a boost.”

Results from the earlier March survey showed quite a different outcome in the Buckeye State:

Raleigh, N.C. March 19, 2008 – In possible general election match ups in Ohio Hillary Clinton shows a slight lead over John McCain while McCain has a larger advantage over Barack Obama, according to the newest survey from Public Policy Polling. Clinton leads McCain 45-44 in the state, while McCain has a 49-41 advantage over Obama.

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Cyd Charisse has died at 87

The partner of dance greats Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly has died from heart failure at the age of 87. Born Tula Ellice Finklea in Amarillo, Texas, in 1921, she took the name Cyd Charisse, a combination of a childhood nickname and the surname of her first husband, as her stage name. Charisse took up dancing at the age of 6 as treatment for polio. She began dancing professionally a mere 8 years later.

Her first film role, in 1943, had her starring opposite Don Ameche in "Something to Shout About". She went on to dance with Astaire in 1946's "Ziegfeld Follies" before her big break in 1952, when she appeared opposite Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain."In that brief, silent role, Charisse dangled Kelly's straw hat on the toe of her high heel as he, and the camera, admired her fully-extended leg.

Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse - from "Singin' in the Rain"

The 5' 6" tall dancer gave off an image of tallness and grace that belied her stature. Fred Astaire commented in a later interview that "She wasn't a tap dancer, she's just beautiful, trained, very strong in whatever we did. When we were dancing, we didn't know what time it was. When you dance with Cyd Charisse, you've been danced with."

The Band Wagon - Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse

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Big Oil fuels the Straight Talk Express

The latest video from Robert Greenwald's Brave New Films lobs a key inquiry at John McCain, "Why won't McCain require oil companies to pursue alternate energy?" The answer, of course, is that his campaign is full up with funders, minders, and cronies who have carried water for oil companies:

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"Not Alex"

AFSCME and MoveOn.org are joining forces to air this new ad portraying John McCain's Iraq policy as a prolonged presence that would involve a new generation of Americans:

"Not Alex"

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Why I'm proud to be a Democrat

Rethuglicans such as Ted Poe (Caveman (R) - Texas) make me proud to be a progressive Democrat, possibly for the first time in my adult life (/snark). Seriously, can we enact legislation that requires legislators to have a friggin' clue what they're talking about:


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Monday, June 16, 2008

Gore endorses Obama

The "2000 People's Choice" endorses the "2008 People's Choice":

While 100% expected, it's still pleasing to actually hear the words from the proverbial horse's mouth. Al Gore announced his endorsement of Barack Obama Monday and promised to help the Democrat achieve what eluded him - the presidency:

"I present to you the next president of the United States, Barack Obama!" Gore said in a brief introduction of Obama at a Detroit fundraiser. He planned a later appearance with Obama at a 20,000-person rally at the Joe Louis Arena.

In a letter to be e-mailed to Obama supporters, the former vice president and Nobel Prize winner wrote, "From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected president of the United States."

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Long-Thompson visits Fort Wayne

Introduces Dennie Oxley as running mate:

Jill Long-Thompson met with a small crowd near Fort Wayne International Airport this afternoon to introduce Dennie Oxley as her choice for Lieutenant Governor. A short meet and greet took place before Rep. Win Moses took the podium to introduce Long-Thompson, who then in turn, introduced Oxley. Both candidates spoke for several minutes about their vision for the state of Indiana.

Long Thompson:

"Dennie's legislative career demonstrates that he is an effective leader and a champion of working people. His experience in the legislature, in the classroom, and in the business world will be put to good use. He's exactly the kind of Lieutenant Governor we need to help bring new prosperity and opportunity to communities across Indiana."


"Jill is a proven leader with executive experience - and I'm honored to partner with her to fight for better opportunities for all Hoosier families. Together we will work to grow our economy, protect good-paying jobs, lower health care costs for working famiies, strengthen our schools and overhaul the entire tax structure to make Indiana more competitive."

Oxley was first elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1998, and represents portions of eight southern Indiana counties as well as serving as Majority Whip for the House Democratic Caucus.

UPDATE: Video of the event

The "old media" managed to capture half of me standing behind Win Moses and Dennie Oxley. The two local bloggers who appear over Oxley's shoulders, reminiscent of the good angel-bad angel take, are local college students who's blog is unnamed at this time. No matter, it was awesome to see them turn out and be involved!

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Statements vs Actions

Senator John McCain today issued a statement on the flooding in the Midwest on Saturday. Barack Obama was unavailable for comment, as he was busy doing this:

Hat Tip: Billary Redux

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Firefox 3 Download Day 2008

Download Day 2008

Set a Guinness World Record and enjoy a better web:

Sounds like a good deal, right? All you have to do is get Firefox 3 during Download Day to help set the record for most software downloads in 24 hours - it’s that easy. We're not asking you to swallow a sword or to balance 30 spoons on your face, although that would be kind of awesome.

The official date for the launch of Firefox 3 is June 17, 2008. Join our community and this effort by pledging today. Click the Download Day button above to join in!

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You Tell Me

Welcome to Monday! I'm thinking that somebody didn't research things very well before signing their lease. Either that, or it's a joint operation. . .but since it is Captions Monday, YOU tell ME:


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

How Progressives can Win

The reforms of the New Deal, coupled with the GI Bill that followed World War II, created America's middle class. They made possible the high wage economy and educated work force that lead to sustained, shared economic growth. They were built on a premise that is fundamentally at odds with the Bush-McCain economic dictum that "you're on your own, buddy." That premise is the simple moral imperative that we're all in this together -- not all in this alone.

In his new book, Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, Robert Creamer makes the case that while some people think that in order to win we must move to the center, adopt conservative values, and split the difference, history shows they are wrong. We don't need to move to the center. We need to move the center. We need to redefine the political center in American politics:

From 1932 to about 1973 -- at least so far as domestic policy is concerned -- traditional progressive values defined the political and economic center in the United States.

By the mid-1970's that changed, and we've been on the political and ideological defensive ever since. For seventy percent of the years since 1968 we have had Republican presidents. President Clinton made many important progressive initiatives. But even in the Clinton years we were forced to battle the dominant conservative value frame.

To achieve realignment, we have to get out of that defensive crouch. To do that we have to forcefully, proudly, consistently stand up for those progressive values. We have to provide a clear contrast between the Right's belief in the unbridled pursuit of individual interest and our commitment to the common good; between selfishness and commitment to others; between division and unity; between fear and hope. We have to consistently assert that fundamental progressive premise: that we're all in this together -- not all in this alone.

Creamer uses the term that fits the situation precisely, "We need to move the center. We need to redefine the political center in American politics". We need a new leader who can open the eyes of the majority of Americans who were deceived by the intricate web of lies thrust upon them by these so called "conservatives" of the last 30 years. Not surprisingly, many true conservatives were the quickest to warm to Barack Obama's message - they are painfully aware of the devastation done to the Republican Party under the "neo-con" flag. The "conservatives" of the early 1970's would be called "liberals" today. And we welcome them with open arms.

I'm not exactly sure when it came about that the Republicans became the "party of the people", but I do understand what so many of "the people" didn't for so many years - Today's GOP has played to their fears, the very lowest common denominators, and used that message to grab their votes while working against the people's best interests nearly all of the time. These neo-con Repubs liked to paint progressives as "tax and spend liberals" and "elitists", while they were busy giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and passing legislation that stripped the working class of their rights. They have courted the middle class of this country as they systematically worked to destroy it!

It has taken a LONG time for people to awaken to what has been done to them behind the false smile facade of today's Repubs. But their eyes are open. . .and they are pissed as hell. . .

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Obama's Father's Day Address

The Senator rebukes absent black fathers:

Barack addressed the congregation at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, IL on June 15, 2008:

The text of the speech:

Good morning. It's good to be home on this Father's Day with my girls, and it's an honor to spend some time with all of you today in the house of our Lord.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus closes by saying, "Whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock." [Matthew 7: 24-25]

Here at Apostolic, you are blessed to worship in a house that has been founded on the rock of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. But it is also built on another rock, another foundation - and that rock is Bishop Arthur Brazier. In forty-eight years, he has built this congregation from just a few hundred to more than 20,000 strong - a congregation that, because of his leadership, has braved the fierce winds and heavy rains of violence and poverty; joblessness and hopelessness. Because of his work and his ministry, there are more graduates and fewer gang members in the neighborhoods surrounding this church. There are more homes and fewer homeless. There is more community and less chaos because Bishop Brazier continued the march for justice that he began by Dr. King's side all those years ago. He is the reason this house has stood tall for half a century. And on this Father's Day, it must make him proud to know that the man now charged with keeping its foundation strong is his son and your new pastor, Reverend Byron Brazier.

Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing - missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

How many times in the last year has this city lost a child at the hands of another child? How many times have our hearts stopped in the middle of the night with the sound of a gunshot or a siren? How many teenagers have we seen hanging around on street corners when they should be sitting in a classroom? How many are sitting in prison when they should be working, or at least looking for a job? How many in this generation are we willing to lose to poverty or violence or addiction? How many?

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child - it's the courage to raise one.

We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That's what keeps their foundation strong. It's what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

I know what it means to have an absent father, although my circumstances weren't as tough as they are for many young people today. Even though my father left us when I was two years old, and I only knew him from the letters he wrote and the stories that my family told, I was luckier than most. I grew up in Hawaii, and had two wonderful grandparents from Kansas who poured everything they had into helping my mother raise my sister and me - who worked with her to teach us about love and respect and the obligations we have to one another. I screwed up more often than I should've, but I got plenty of second chances. And even though we didn't have a lot of money, scholarships gave me the opportunity to go to some of the best schools in the country. A lot of kids don't get these chances today. There is no margin for error in their lives. So my own story is different in that way.

Still, I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother - how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle - that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock - that foundation - on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.

I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father - knowing that I have made mistakes and will continue to make more; wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now. I say this knowing all of these things because even as we are imperfect, even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers - whether we are black or white; rich or poor; from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb.

The first is setting an example of excellence for our children - because if we want to set high expectations for them, we've got to set high expectations for ourselves. It's great if you have a job; it's even better if you have a college degree. It's a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don't just sit in the house and watch "SportsCenter" all weekend long. That's why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we've got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That's how we build that foundation.

We know that education is everything to our children's future. We know that they will no longer just compete for good jobs with children from Indiana, but children from India and China and all over the world. We know the work and the studying and the level of education that requires.

You know, sometimes I'll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there's all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it's just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree too. An eighth-grade education doesn't cut it today. Let's give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!

It's up to us - as fathers and parents - to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It's up to us to say to our daughters, don't ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It's up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we live glory to achievement, self respect, and hard work. It's up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.

The second thing we need to do as fathers is pass along the value of empathy to our children. Not sympathy, but empathy - the ability to stand in somebody else's shoes; to look at the world through their eyes. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in "us," that we forget about our obligations to one another. There's a culture in our society that says remembering these obligations is somehow soft - that we can't show weakness, and so therefore we can't show kindness.

But our young boys and girls see that. They see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it's no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That's why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you're not strong by putting other people down - you're strong by lifting them up. That's our responsibility as fathers.

And by the way - it's a responsibility that also extends to Washington. Because if fathers are doing their part; if they're taking our responsibilities seriously to be there for their children, and set high expectations for them, and instill in them a sense of excellence and empathy, then our government should meet them halfway.

We should be making it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid them. We should get rid of the financial penalties we impose on married couples right now, and start making sure that every dime of child support goes directly to helping children instead of some bureaucrat. We should reward fathers who pay that child support with job training and job opportunities and a larger Earned Income Tax Credit that can help them pay the bills. We should expand programs where registered nurses visit expectant and new mothers and help them learn how to care for themselves before the baby is born and what to do after - programs that have helped increase father involvement, women's employment, and children's readiness for school. We should help these new families care for their children by expanding maternity and paternity leave, and we should guarantee every worker more paid sick leave so they can stay home to take care of their child without losing their income.

We should take all of these steps to build a strong foundation for our children. But we should also know that even if we do; even if we meet our obligations as fathers and parents; even if Washington does its part too, we will still face difficult challenges in our lives. There will still be days of struggle and heartache. The rains will still come and the winds will still blow.

And that is why the final lesson we must learn as fathers is also the greatest gift we can pass on to our children - and that is the gift of hope.

I'm not talking about an idle hope that's little more than blind optimism or willful ignorance of the problems we face. I'm talking about hope as that spirit inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us if we're willing to work for it and fight for it. If we are willing to believe.

I was answering questions at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin the other day and a young man raised his hand, and I figured he'd ask about college tuition or energy or maybe the war in Iraq. But instead he looked at me very seriously and he asked, "What does life mean to you?"

Now, I have to admit that I wasn't quite prepared for that one. I think I stammered for a little bit, but then I stopped and gave it some thought, and I said this:

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me - how do I make my way in the world, and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want.

But now, my life revolves around my two little girls. And what I think about is what kind of world I'm leaving them. Are they living in a county where there's a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day? Are they living in a county that is still divided by race? A country where, because they're girls, they don't have as much opportunity as boys do? Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don't cooperate effectively with other nations? Are they living a world that is in grave danger because of what we've done to its climate?

And what I've realized is that life doesn't count for much unless you're willing to do your small part to leave our children - all of our children - a better world. Even if it's difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don't get very far in our lifetime.

That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents. We try. We hope. We do what we can to build our house upon the sturdiest rock. And when the winds come, and the rains fall, and they beat upon that house, we keep faith that our Father will be there to guide us, and watch over us, and protect us, and lead His children through the darkest of storms into light of a better day. That is my prayer for all of us on this Father's Day, and that is my hope for this country in the years ahead. May God Bless you and your children. Thank you

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