Monday, December 22, 2008

It Feels This Cold

I'm a Chicagoan through and through, but this weekend is bruuuutal.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Leo McGarry

I wrote over the past summer...

Think when any of us become a fan of a TV show, sports team, band, whatever, you feel a bond and connection with the people involved. Most of the time you never get a chance to meet or know them as people but you care about them.

Four years ago today John Spencer passed away. Spencer played White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry in President Josiah Bartlett's White House on the TV show The West Wing.

This blog was named after an episode of The West Wing and many of the posts on this blog reference one of TV's greatest show. John Spencer's portrayal of Leo McGarry was a character to whom I related and tried to emulate when I worked on campaigns.

Some people ask me,, 'who was your favorite character on the show?' I always answer it like a parent talks about their kids. "I really love them all, and they could all be my favorite at any time."

The real answer above is true. I loved them all, but it was Leo who was consistently my favorite. He was the guy I wanted to be when I was tossing my lot into the political world. More pragmatist than idealogue, more team builder, than team agitator.

I'll never forget when I interviewed for a job with John Hancock after college to be a financial analyst. I was asked one of those ridiculous questions you get asked in interviews,,, "What is your dream job?"

My answer at the time was "White House Chief of Staff."

The main reason I even knew what this job was,,, was due to The West Wing and how I viewed Leo McGarry.

As those who watch the show are aware, Spencer passed away in the middle of the last season of The West Wing while his character was the Democratic Nominee for Vice President. The story is that if Spencer would have lived, that the Republican nominee Arnold Vinnick (played by Alan Alda) would have won the election.

But after Spencer's death the writers decided to write McGarry's death into the storyline and the Democrat Nominee Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) ended up as the winner of the election.

Considering that I almost named this blog, I feel that the 16th of December 16 will always be an appropriate day to pass along some of the wisdom of Leo .

While the YouTube video below is not of the best quality it is a great collection of clips and always love watching the reaction of fellow cast members (Bradley Whitford in particular) when he won his Emmy for one of the great episodes in West Wing history "Bartlet for America". Links to other Spencer tributes are listed below.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No (expletive) Surprise

Talked to some friends of mine from outside my home state of Illinois yesterday who all thought that they would find a reaction of shock, embarrassment, and surprise about the news of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrest.

The truth is this,,,

17people and most everyone in the state of Illinois is not the least bit surprised. 'Blago' as he is referred to by many around here is a very unpopular figure in the state (13% in some approval polls) and was a major reason that Illinois considered a Constitutional Convention in the past year (it failed). The Chicago Tribune (a target of Blago) was pushing for a 'recall' mechanism for the citizens of Illinois.

So the black eye for Illinois in this whole deal is this... Why did this piece of shit get elected twice?

17people readily admits to have voted for Blago in two General Elections. In his 1st primary 17people supported former Chicago School Board President and fellow Greek American Paul Vallas. Blago had significant institutional support from his powerhouse Chicago Alderman father in law Richard 'Dick' Mell (who interestingly disowned Blago about 5 years ago).

Also of note in the 2002 primary,,, State Senator Barack Obama endorsed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris against Blago.

When Blago ran in that first General Election in 2002 he was the Democratic Nominee following the administration of a Republican Governor who as most people know,,, is also in jail. That guys name was George Ryan. The last name of the Republican that Blago ran against in 2002,,, also Ryan (Jim Ryan, no relation), but the stigma was there. Bottom line there was no chance the Democrats could have lost that election.

Four years later the Illinois Republican party, still scarred by George Ryan had a bloody primary where State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka was elected the nominee. Blago had about $17million in his campaign war chest and blasted Topinka, who was not a very good candidate.

What I say about Blago's two elections is similar to what I say about President Bush. Voters, myself included, got what we deserved. Blago has done some good things, like increase education funding and fund children's health care.

However, people I know that know Blago have said his arrogance and borderline sociopathic tendencies make him a detestable person.

Which is why instead of shame and embarrassment, feel like many Illinoisan's like me are glad that the justice department did what they are supposed to do...

Find the bad guys and put them away.

Good riddance Blago.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Obama Economic Team=Stimulus,,, for a Week

Last week we saw a strong rally for the stock market.

There are a number of factors for this bump, but think that the biggest factor was President Elect Obama announcing a very impressive economic team.

Tim Geithner looks to be a respected and well thought of pick to be the Treasury Secretary. The pick also avoids a messy confirmation that would have taken place had Larry Summers been the choice. Summers considered to be one of the great economic minds in the world will be a part of the Obama Economic team as head of the National Economic Council.

What was most encouraging to me was that Obama's other appointments seemed to be applauded by people on both sides of the political spectrum and attacked by those on both ideological wings. Peter Orszag as Director of the Office of Management and Budget after running the Congressional Budget Office. While a lower level appointee than some it is nice to see someone with impeccable qualifications get an important job like this.

Former Federal Reserve Chair, the brilliant Paul Volcker will Chair the Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Volcker is a Hall of Famer when it comes to his track record and knowledge. He became a bit maligned during the Greenspan time at the Fed, but was one of the few people out there warning of the mess we are now in,,, before it happened.

The economic team is loaded with talent and experience.

Now they need to deliver stability to the economy.

Can't think of anyone else that should be on the team. It's an impressive gathering of intellect and well respected names in the fields they work.

Before getting too excited, I want to hear Geithner speak.

Why do I want to hear him speak you may ask?

The next Treasury Secretary needs to be more than a brilliant economist. He needs to be a sales person and a teacher as well.

This is something we have been sorely lacking during the Bush years. None of his Treasury Secretaries were particularly good salesmen or teachers of the economy during what turned out to be extraordinarily difficult times.

Paul O'Neill and John Snow were flops, and Hank Paulson has taken a beating for his handling of the bailout. 17people thinks we need to see how the TARP act works before burying Paulson as a disaster.

What we have all learned with terms like 'derivatives' and 'leverage' is that the economy is more complicated than we even imagined. Geithner and the new economic team is going to have to BOTH implement policy AND sell it to the public in a way that makes sense.

The public is not going to accept things getting forced on them as much as they have in the past.

It was nice to see that the markets last week responded to the decisions of our next President. He and his transition team deserve some kudos because the 'announcement stimulus' was perfectly timed leading into Black Friday and the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

17people fully expects that we will see many more dives in the markets in the weeks and months ahead. Yet, for the first time in a long time I have faith in the Economic Team leading our country.

There has never been more global economic pressure on an Administration.

One week of stimulus is nice but we could see an even worse economic landscape in 50days time and reputations will not be enough. Obama and his team will need to deliver.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to All

In what has been a difficult and historic year I was given some great advice today on my Facebook page to take some time off of politics and enjoy some turkey.

So while I am recovering from a handful of boring football games, a couple pounds of turkey, and my mom's incredible stuffing, 17people wants to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving,, with what else?

A West Wing clip that will never grow old for me. Linked it in last year and will probably have it up next year too.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mortgage Story of the Year

Tom Friedman's article today tells a story from a brilliant and stunning article by Michael Lewis, author of one of my favorite books ever Moneyball.

We all have heard stories about how we got into this mess, the following story will do that rare thing of making you laugh and then get angry when you think about it.

Long Beach Financial (then part of now bankrupt WaMu) was moving money out the door as fast as it could, few questions asked, in loans built to self-destruct. It specialized in asking homeowners with bad credit and no proof of income to put no money down and defer interest payments for as long as possible.

In Bakersfield, Calif., a Mexican strawberry picker with an income of $14,000 and no English was lent every penny he needed to buy a house for $720,000.”

Monday, November 24, 2008


There has been a lot in recent weeks that I have not written about but today there is something that really irked me.

Read this morning that the US Treasury is infusing $20billion to Citigroup. This is on top of $25billion that the government has already given to Citigroup. So Citigroup has received $45billion worth of welfare from the US taxpayer. Read the 1st line of the article above and you will see what is even worse is that we the people have insured $300billion worth of Citigroups assets.

What really, really makes me mad is that Citigroup got this additional money after they announced last week that they would cut 52,000 jobs.

Thats right, after Citigroup announced that they would fire 52,000 people, the Treasury Department decided to reward them with $20billion.

This disgusts me.

Where is the congressional hearing and oversight?

Where is the Citigroup CEO to rake over the coals the way Congress did to the Big 3 automakers last week?

I implore Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd who told us that the 'Bailout' had 'oversight' in it, to do their job and excercise some damn oversight.

The double standard in our country right now really worries me. The Big 3 Automakers employ a lot more people directly and indirectly than Citigroup does.

But we have limited outrage that when looking at the number the Big 3 have asked for 55% of what Citigroup alone has received thus far in the last 8 weeks. They flew into Washington on Friday and left with $20billion.

Must be nice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Democrats Lose Their Way

For the past week I have taken a bit of a sabbatical from my writing to run a whip operation to push House Democrats to make a smart decision. My whip operation did not yield the result I worked for though.

Today is a low point for 17people and the US House of Representatives. The House Democrats replaced the Great John Dingell as the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee with Henry Waxman.

17People has been emailing and calling Congressional Democrats for the past week urging them to support Dingell. My efforts and that of many but it turned out this was not enough as Dingell lost 137-122 in the Democratic Caucus.

This is the kind of move that has to give pragmatic Democrats pause. The entire leadership of the House of Representatives has been taken over by the far left of the caucus. The entire leadership now owes their position to the Speaker of the House and it is worrisome that those who have questioned her have all been removed from power.

I am a liberal and actually to the left of Mr. Dingell on many issues. But that doesn't distort the fact that he is the best man for this job and has been for the past 28 years. No chairman of any committee has passed and written more meaningful legislation than John Dingell and his reward for that was being outflanked by the left wing.

There is no member of Congress I respect more or think would write and manage the best possible legislation that appeals to the widest range of Americans. The Energy and Commerce Committee will be working on with the Obama administration on Health Care, Energy Policy, the 'Green Economy'.

I have learned in my life to try and say as little as possible when I am mad. This will mean I won't have to apologize for more than I need to later. Once I calm down I will write more, but this is it for now,,, this is a bad day for Democrats.

Here's the story from Politico.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kudos to Goldman Sachs?

Every once in a while there is a story where a company or individual does something really good and they deserve credit for it.

Yes, you read the title correctly. Liberal 17People is giving Goldman Sachs some positive recognition.

Today on the front page of The Wall Street Journal is that rare story where 17People says something nice about Wall Street. That news is that Goldman Sachs, one of the largest investment banks in the world announced that it's top executive will be forgoing their bonuses for 2008.

Now these bonuses aren't like most of us who if we are lucky get an extra paycheck or a few hundred dollars. The CEO of Goldman Sachs got a $70million bonus last year! The next two guys around $68million each. While these numbers are huge you have to credit them for giving up real sacrifice here.

This news comes on the heals of the sickening news that Citi Group is going to layoff
50,000 people in the near future. I wonder if Citi's executives are making the same sacrifice that the Goldman executives are by forgoing their bonuses.

The Journal said around $312billion was paid out in 2007 in Wall Street executive bonuses. So by taking a year to invest that money into their companies,,, would be a way to save jobs and show the public they are serious about change.

If the leadership of more companies take responsible steps like this I think we will be able to bounce out of this economic mess faster than by having executives continue to put their own self interests ahead of their employees.

Despite the fact that I view Goldman as one of the companies who had responsibility in getting us into this financial mess, 17People gives them our highest compliments for this decision.

Their decision does two important things, it shows the public that someone on Wall Street can do something to be responsible and more importantly puts the pressure on other banks to do the same.

How can other investment banks take huge bonuses upon the heals of this stunning example of corporate responsibility? Hopefully it means they can't.

17People One Year Anniversary

A year ago I started this blog after watching a Democratic Debate with 9 Presidential Candidates on stage. The direction of 17people has changed based on my moods, interests, and tolerance for the politics.

There have been a dorkish number of references to the West Wing, a handful of movie reviews, a small number of personal stories, a brief arc on my fitness/weight loss regimen, and about five episodes of writers bloc or as I like to refer to it 'writers self loathing' (the most recent bout which ended last week).

17people is no question a left leaning blog and will continue to push progressive ideas and battle conservative stances and candidates I disagree with. As a result of this we have lost some Republican readers over the year. 17People has tried its best to also call out the left and show respect to the right and will make this a big goal of our second year.

This first year was a learning year and hopefully as time goes on some of those Republican readers will come back and argue their points here.

It's ironic that some Republicans have stopped reading my blog considering that in my personal life, most of my friends are,,, strong Republicans. 17People has learned the hard way that it is harder to show understanding and respect for other viewpoints when I write about politics than when I discuss politics.

A smile, a wink, voice inflection are not as easy to decipher in a blog post than in a conversation.

As happy as I am that Democrats control the government this blog will give them no free pass in the year to come. 17People will be a watchdog and if President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, or Leader Reid fail to deliver for the American people, this blog will call them out.

Most importantly,,, 17People wants to thank the loyal readers of this blog for pushing, reminding, and inspire me to keep writing even when I don't want to. Without their support and encouragement 17People could have ended long ago.

Finally, a give away to the sometimes readers of 17People. There are two little known facts about this blog that I get asked all the time which I will attempt to answer here.

Because of a lack of personal confidence,, I have done almost nothing to promote 17People. Think I emailed it out to about 10 people when I started and have not let many more people know since then. So when people ask how many readers I have,,, the answer is I don't know, but maybe as I believe in my writing a bit more I will push 17People to more outlets.

The second and more often asked question is '17People'? What the heck does that mean?

As stated earlier this blog derives a lot of content from my all time favorite television show The West Wing. Went through a lot of ideas and possibilities and came across a clip on YouTube I thought dealt with telling the truth, and more appropriately,,, telling truth to power.

The West Wing was an amazing show which did more than entertain, it educated. It made complex issues a little easier to understand. While 17People the blog will never be as smart as the writing of Aaron Sorkin, that is what I strive to give to my readers.

17People will alert readers to stories and opinions that you may not hear everywhere and to try and explain some issues in terms that are a little easier to understand.

17People, The West Wing episode, was to me about accountability and the pains of telling the truth and why I chose it as the episode to base the title of my blog.

The clip is below, the words are Aaron Sorkins, and they are brilliantly performed by President Bartlet (Martin Sheen), Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff), and Chief of Staff Leo McGarry (the great John Spencer).

President Bartlet has just told Toby that he concealed the fact that he has Multiple Sclerosis from the country and his staff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stop Talking

Yesterday, 17people essentially pleaded with Sarah Palin to not overdo her interview schedule before she was able to have a clear and coherent message.

Then last night, Jon Stewart showed what I was trying to accomplish in the brilliant Daily Show clip above.

First of all, if she is trying to connect to 'regular Joe Six Pack Americans' how many of them where high heels and a suit coat while they are cooking chili dogs (check around the 2:36-3:48 mark).

Then at the 4:00 mark of the above piece, Stewart illustrated what I was warning about when it comes to a consistent message. These interviews have absolutely no consistency and when looking at them together, they just get even more ridiculous,, something that given the beating her reputation took, she can ill afford.

The worse part for Palin is that in the interviews thus far have been all about Palin.

I don't blame Palin for this, I blame the interviewers who are obsessed with the 'soap opera' that has become Palin's political existence. They only ask her about clothes, her daughters pregnancy, and moose chili dogs. All 'fluff' topics that do nothing to make people think she is a more serious person who has a political future.

17people hates to say 'I told you so' but this is exactly what I warned about yesterday. Many have to be like me who have been feeling bad for Palin about the awful leaks that have come out against her. She had an opportunity to hit back and make herself look good or even play the 'victim card'.

Instead she came out swinging wildly and today instead of Sarah Palin beginning a comeback in the eyes of the country she is making herself more of a national punchline, as opposed to establishing herself as a respected national figure.

The below clip is from an obvious liberal partisan, but it again illustrates the problems that Palin is creating for herself with this whirlwind of an undisciplined media tour. While often Olbermann stretches things to go after Republicans,, Palin made his job very easy as you can see.

3 Votes

Today the lead on the Alaska Senate race has spread to an 814 vote lead for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich over incumbent Ted Stevens.

But maybe the coolest story of the election year was reported last night.

After 41,000 absentee and early votes were counted yesterday Begich took the lead over Stevens through the first 250,000 votes.

That lead,, was 3 votes!!

Not 300, 3000, but 3 votes.

We often think that our votes don't matter, but for one news cycle, until the 814 vote spread hit this morning,, we saw how much our votes really do count.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

17People Predictions Breakdown

After an awful year of misreading polls and making predictions that did not come true in primary after primary,,, 17people redeemed itself by nailing the Presidential election only missing two states and 6 electoral votes. 17people said Obama would get 370 electoral votes (he ended up with 364) and 53% of the vote (he ended up with 52.6%), and said he would win by 6 million votes (ok I underestimated, he won by 8.3million).

If not for overestimating the impact of the Obama ad buys in North Dakota and Montana,,, I'd be the blog being talked about instead of Nate Silvers awesome

In 17people's Senate predictions it is too early to tell on my call of 60 which remains a possibility. I stupidly forgot to put the Mississippi Senate race on my battleground list, but would have given it to incumbent Republican Roger Wicker, though I would have said that it would be closer than it was.

17people correctly called easy races in Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado. Called tougher races in North Carolina, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and for a Republican in Kentucky. Also correctly called the runoff in Georgia which will get plenty of coverage over the next month.

As for the two other undecided races in Alaska and Minnesota.

Am genuinely surprised that Alaska is still leaning for convicted felon Ted Stevens. The polls at the end were between 10 and 22 points against Stevens, so something doesn't feel quite right in Alaska. But with 90,000 absentee and provisional ballots to be counted, maybe Alaska can redeem itself and fire Ted Stevens before the US Senate does.

As for Minnesota I wrote last Tuesday it was "the toughest race of the year in Minnesota" and the 200 vote spread with a recount coming,,, proved that out. Minnesota proved to be a state that baffles. Jesse Ventura was an eccentric, if not very bad Governor, Paul Wellstone was one of the most progressive Senators, and this year they reelected the crazy Michelle Bachman.

Perhaps only in Minnesota could Al Franken, unapologetic liberal with a career of politically damaging statements is still a possibility to become that states Senator.

Now I predicted a 33 seat gain for Democrats in the House and missed the boat on that as more endangered Republicans survived than I thought.

The Dems have picked up 20 seats in the House so far with a chance for maybe 4 more which is a big gain, just two years after winning 20+ seats. The Democrats have more than a 75 vote advantage meaning they have much more power than either party has had in some time.

After picking like Mush from "A Bronx Tale" for most of the year, 17people is relieved to have come back with a vengeance this General Election.

Sarah Palin?

I think that the leaks coming from the McCain campaign about Sarah Palin are disgraceful. The finger pointing and attempts by the 'senior aides' and 'unnamed sources' to tear down Sarah Palin has been baffling to me for the past three weeks, since before the election.

When I worked in politics I heard stories about many high profile people in the Democratic party,,, but to send an anonymous email to Drudge or go 'off the record' to a reporter was something you don't do. Even tell all books like All Too Human by George Stephanopoulos about the Clinton years are looks at as betrayals of your code.

This flood of attacks has to be behind the decision by Palin and her team to overdo the talk show circuit this week.

  • Monday Night she had an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News
  • Tuesday Morning she was on the Today Show with Matt Lauer in Alaska
  • Today she'll be in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
  • Tonight she will be on Larry King.
It's fair for Palin to take advantage of her new found celebrity, especially if you have future political ambitions like she does. Yet she is not going on with a plan or a specific message, she's going in with just her thoughts.

When Bill Clinton was on Larry King, Letterman, The Daily Show, etc, he was on to talk about his Global Initiative. If you turned on any of them you would have heard almost the same thing and he got his message across clearly. Palin in her first two interviews has been all over the place in her answers to questions, which leads me to believe she's winging it and that means she has no recipe for success.

Let's be honest if we saw one thing in the campaign,,, Sarah Palin is at her weakest when she is on the spot talking a wide arrange issues with a tough interviewer.

While Van Susteren is a friendly lead off, the follow up interviewers are not going to be cupcakes. Even Larry King has been hard on Palin. Watch her past interviews,,, she has a hard time delivering a consistent message, and the more she talks on issues that she doesn't know, the more trouble she gets herself into.

Her best impromptu performance was at the debate which was still tough to watch, but she didn't have follow up questions like she will this week.

Instead of taking some time to develop a clear message or game plan to roll herself out post campaign, Palin is heading out blind. Watch this clip and ignore the guy mocking Sarah Palin afterwards.

The one question that Palin will be asked in every interview is if she will run for President in 2012. The answer she gave in the answer above showed she wasn't even ready to answer that question which is unbelievable to me.

There are many mistakes that we make in our professional lives. Celebrities have a tendency to fall into the trap of overexposure, Politicians often suffer when they lack a consistent message, and in everyday jobs or in school we all know how awful it is to be unprepared is.

Sarah Palin can answer D to the mistakes above,, as in 'all of the above' in her post election roll out.

She may come out of this week with better numbers than she had before, but her early interviews are going to do what her Gibson and Couric interviews did during the campaign. Inspire the Right Wing to like her and the rest of the country to roll their eyes at her.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Week Later

So after attending the historic Obama Election Night Rally in Grant Park I went into a bit of a writing and personal funk. I started article after article and then one of two things happened. I read something that was exactly as I was writing, or more to the point I hated my writing.
I also asked that awful question.... what if I still worked in politics?

The three regular readers of this blog know these funks come upon me every eight weeks or so and this one could not have come at a worse time for a political blog. To hit a spell of writers depression right after an election that you have been obsessing about for over a year?

Awful timing.

That said 17people will be coming back with a new style of shorter and more frequent links and posts to follow the transition of power and the stories of the Congress.

Yet I can't go forward without writing about the experience and feelings at Grant Park and in Chicago last Tuesday night.

How many ways can you say something was amazing or historic? The rally on Tuesday was a high that is almost impossible to quantify in any appropriate way.

Grant Park and the streams of people flooding the streets of Chicago afterwards was like nothing I have ever seen or can imagine ever seeing again.

The moments and experiences were many for me:
  • Taking pictures with strangers in the L station because of wearing a 'Yes We Can' shirt
  • The explosion of cheering in Bar Louie when MSNBC projected Pennsylvania for Obama
  • The buzz in line to get in the rally when news of Ohio hit
  • The eruption of the crowd when Virginia was called for Obama once we were in the rally
  • The boos when states were called for McCain (Like people expected Louisiana to go to Obama? lol)
  • The sheer joy and jubilation of men and women of so many backgrounds with tears coming down their faces (myself included) upon hearing CNN project Barack Obama President
  • The respect shown and continued tears during the incredibly gracious and 'Patriotic' speech of John McCain
  • Then the image of our next President delivering yet another amazing piece of oratory.
  • The incredible pride and feeling of walking down the middle of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago seeing the vast array of people celebrating a political victory.

There were two things that really hit me.

First, this wasn't a city celebrating a Super Bowl or an NBA Championship. This was people celebrating a political victory. What was more amazing was that it was not just Chicago,, it was many places all over the country. We looked like a country celebrating a revolution or freedom, more than a new President.

The second thing is more personal to me and I would guess many others who have been battled on the ground across the country for the past 8+ years.

A sense of vindication.

Not just because of Obama won, but because the country reaffirmed its vote in the midterm elections two years ago. The voters rather convincingly denounced the eight years of President Bush, neo-conservatism, and most importantly did it at the voting booth and not just in 'opinion polls'.

Too many forget that questioning President Bush wasn't always easy and certainly not as popular as it has been the past 3 years.

For many of us, for quite a few years, dissent from this President on things like tax cuts, the Patriot Act, out of control spending, the Iraq War, etc. was denounced as 'Anti-American' and in some circles labeled even worse.

It felt as though in 2000, 2002, and 2004 no matter how 'right' we may have been or thought we were on issues,,, the Bush-Rove operation kicked our ass in elections.

Having good candidates, or a vision for the country doesn't work if you don't control any aspects of the government. At some point,,, you have to win,, and as a Democrat and Cubs fan,, it was a nice feeling to finally win one.

It started in 2006 when the country saw through the myth that was 'Compassionate Conservatism' and the evidence we have today is a 57+ seats in the Senate, 258+ seats in the House of Representatives, and a progressive Northerner from Chicago in the White House.
Democracy in this country works and if the Democrats can't lead the country in the years to come,, then democracy will fire them in the near future.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

17People Election Night

17People had planned to live blog this evening throughout the night.

However thanks to the best sister around I will be attending the rally in Grant Park for Barack Obama this evening. When she first asked me to go I declined because I thought it would be better to watch the coverage at home.

But I received some great advice this weekend from one of my best friends in politics who said,


(If he reads this,,,,, ok, it wasn't in capital letters but for an understated person it came off that way,, lol)

So for those of you that know me, keep an eye out for me in Grant Park, and for those of you who read this blog,,, I will have a full report for you tomorrow.

And a last second plea, if you read this blog or just came across it for the 1st time today, please get out and vote before the polls close.

17People Congressional Predictions


There has been a lot of talk this year about the Democrats getting to 60 Senate Seats after this election. Here is what to watch for this evening.

First the Democrats should pick up four very easy Senate seats in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska. While these should be easy wins, Alaska due to Ted Stevens conviction, three of the Senators being replaced are legendary Republicans. John Warner (VA), Ted Stevens (AK), and Pete Domenici (NM) were easy wins every six years for Republicans so losing these seats is a major power shift.

Those four seats take the Dems to 55 seats and are pretty much locked in my humble opinion unless something crazy happens in Alaska because of Palin being on the ticket,,, who said Stevens should resign.

The next three seats I think favor Dems and feel strongly that they will win against three incumbent Republicans.

- Jeanne Shaheen is up nearly 10 points on the RCP average against Senator John Sununu. I think Sununu is a good Senator but is stuck in the wrong election cycle and Shaheen is a former Governor and very good candidate.
- In Oregon, State House Speaker Jeff Merckley is up 5.3 points according to RCP averages against Gordon Smith. This is a seat Dems didn't think they had a good chance at and Merckley was not their first choice to run, but he should pull this one out on the coattails of Barack Obama who is up 15+ points in Oregon.
- The tightest of these three is in North Carolina where Elizabeth Dole is very surprisingly in trouble. Up until the past week I thought Dole would pull this race out, but with the Obama campaign Get Out the Vote Operation being so strong and a controversial TV ad that backfired it would be surprising if challenger Kay Hagan doesn't pull this one out.

So if these 7 seats go Democratic they will be at 58 seats and have there will be four races left to determine the outcome.

The Democrats have one seat that isn't locked down and that is in Louisiana where Senator Mary Landrieu is in a usual competitive race. The past 4 polls there have Landrieu up 17, 13, 10, and 19 and above 50% in all of them. Being above 50% is key because if she wins with 49% then she will have to compete in a runoff. But Landrieu should hold her seat for another term keeping a red southern Senate seat in the Democrat column.

So that leaves three races to really watch this evening. Two are in very red states that few thought would be in play.

- First though is the toughest race of the year in Minnesota with Al Franken and incumbent Norm Coleman. The parties and Senate Committees have poured more resources into this race that any other. I have long been a fan of Frankens humor, but never thought he had much of a chance to really win this seat. But with Obama looking very strong in Minnesota this should help Franken. This which has an independent third candidate polling over 15% will be a very close race decided late into this evening.
- Georgia. Six years ago Saxby Chambliss beat Max Cleland in a race most Democrats still are angry about. This year Democrats never thought they had a chance in as Georgia has skewed more red in the past 20 years. Chambliss has caught a lot of heat for supporting the bailout and challenger Jim Martin is within the margin of error in many polls. If the Atlanta turnout, particularly in the African American districts is 80-90% for Obama then Martin may be able to do one of two things. Either he could upset Chambliss, or force a runoff if Chambliss doesn't get to 50%.
- Kentucky. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in serious trouble as I wrote last month. The Democrats followed my advice and Bill and Hillary Clinton made multiple trips to support challenger Bruce Lunsford who is within a couple points of the very powerful McConnell. Just as in Georgia the African American turnout could flip this seat. If in the West End of Louisville the turnout is huge Lunsford could shrink the lead of McConnell and win the race.

So how do I think it's going to go? I think Franken wins in Minnesota, Chambliss loses in Georgia, and that McConnell barely hangs onto his seat. I almost see a sweep, but since Obama had a very limited Kentucky effort I think that will save McConnell.

So that means the Dems will be at 60 seats and have to decide if they go to 59 by how they handle Joe Lieberman.


This is where surprises happen. The Dems will surely pick up seats in the area of 15-42 and have benefited from a slew of Republican retirements and stupidity from people like Michelle Bachman and Robin Hayes.

I think that John Murtha will survive in Pennsylvania for the Democrats and that overall they will pick up 33 seats. The one thing that can happen in the house unlike the Senate is a blindside and with an 80% turnout expected in some places there will be a few safe incumbents who are voted out of office tonight.

I can't name them, but I expect it will happen to both parties, but to a few more Republicans than Democrats.

While many people only get interested in Presidential politics I am a geek about the Congress and will be very interested to watch these returns come in to see how they effect both the Senate and Presidential campaign.

Come tomorrow sure I will look stupid once again!

At Long Last- Presidential Predictions

Well at long last the election is here....

As much as I love this stuff like most of America,,,, I am ready for it to end.

Not sure if this is good or not, but for the 1st time in a while I had a good night of sleep and feel pretty confident for Barack Obama.

While 17people has been just awful with political predictions this year,, here is how I think the Presidential election will play out. Have been playing around with the electoral map and while anything is possible see the path to 270 for John McCain as requiring a 'perfect storm' of 11 states or so breaking for him.

That 'perfect storm' has already taken a hit for a simple reason. There aren't a lot of storms as the weather around the country seems to look really nice. Four cities important to Obama vote totals in two states appear to have good weather. Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio both have 60 degree plus weather for all day as does Pittsburgh. The only bump in the weather is some rain in Philadelphia later this evening.

For McCain to win he has to win both Pennsylvania and Ohio. Big turnouts in those four cities make it harder for McCain to win them and he has an uphill climb in Pennsylvania, but I can't call it for Obama because McCain and Palin have worked the state very hard.

Going into this evening 17people has 11 states in the toss up category that count for 141 Electoral Vote. I see Obama with 265 solid electoral votes and McCain with 132 solid electoral votes.

These numbers give Obama Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, and New Mexico but keeps Pennsylvania in the Toss Up Category.

McCain's fringe states in the 132 number include Arkansas and West Virginia, but has Arizona in the Toss Up category.

So the 11 states to watch according to 17people are.

  1. Pennsylvania
  2. Ohio
  3. Florida
  4. North Carolina
  5. Georgia
  6. Indiana
  7. Missouri
  8. North Dakota
  9. Montana
  10. Nevada
  11. Arizona

Of these 11 states McCain leads in the RealClearPolitics Average of polls in 6 states all within the margin of error, and Obama in 4 states (North Dakota has no average I can find). Obama's average in Pennsylvania is up 7.3 which is the biggest of any of these states and up 6.8 in Nevada.

So while not going out on a limb,,,

17people is predicting that Barack Obama will win tonite.

But I do predict a bigger electoral vote total than many others. Last night I almost brought myself to say he would top 400 Electoral votes, but I think that Obama will come up just short in Georgia, Arizona, and either Indiana or Missouri.

So after some contemplation I think that Obama will get 53% of the popular vote and get 370 Electoral votes. I predict a sweep of the big three Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Also think that of the 11 on the list above he will sneak out wins in Montana (thanks to Ron Paul) and North Dakota, think he will squeeze out a win in Indiana, and will win Nevada.

That gets him to 370 on the dot.

The reason that Democrats have lost the past two elections to George W. Bush is that they were playing on a very small Electoral battlefield. Gore had no room for error, Kerry had no room for error, and this year the candidate with no room for error, is John McCain.

Call it financial resources, the economy, an unpopular war, or an even more unpopular President, but the Democrats played across the a wider range of the country in this election. They put more states in play.

Many criticized the underappreciated Howard Dean 4 years ago for talking about a '50 state strategy' for the DNC. Even more questioned the Obama campaign for going after Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina so hard from the beginning of the race.

In the end the should the Democrats have a big night,,, it will be because for the first time in years they gambled to expand the electoral map.

Again, 17people says 370-168 this evening and Obama will win the popular vote by 6million votes.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Endorsement Politics

Have read some things over the past eight years or so that John McCain and Dick Cheney do not get along so well. Think that Dick Cheney's endorsement of John McCain on this final weekend of the election,,,,, proves it.

Odd Decision by ABC/ESPN

During Monday Night Football tonight on ESPN TV Barack Obama and John McCain will be interviewed at halftime.

This could well be the last national interview before the election tomorrow and Monday Night Football gets a pretty big audience and having Obama and McCain on the night before the election. The interview is taped, but still, it's a pretty big deal.

Probably the last major national audience that either will get so you think that they would give it to a fairly reputable sportscaster.

I thought that they may have the very reputable Bob Ley or Monday Night Football play by play man Mike Tirico.

Who did ESPN/ABC give this interview to?

Chris Berman.

Berman has been with ESPN since it was founded, is a very recognizable sportscaster and probably the most famous on their network. He's a smart guy educated at Brown University, but to say Berman is a clown would be an understatement.

I don't care if the whole interview is about sports or football, but think that putting the potential next President of the United States on TV with Chris Berman when you have so many reputable and serious sports journalists,,, lessens this great opportunity that ESPN had.

The Problem With Voting

Wrote last week that I voted early and waited around two hours to do so.

One thing that piece failed to mention is that while standing in line to vote,, at number of people had to leave because they just couldn't wait. Some had to get to work that night, others had to pick up their kids, and some just probably got frustrated.

Last evening I was reminded of this in a piece by Rachel Maddow. She called the very lengthy lines at polling locations which she called the equivalent of a "New Poll Tax".

What I liked about what she said was that it was a non-partisan comment. Instead of blaming Republicans she used her show to highlight an issue that we don't talk a lot about.

The video below isn't long but it is worth your time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Obama Infomercial

When I heard that the Obama campaign was buying up half hour spots on the network I thought it would come off presumptous and have the possibility of turning people off.

After watching it, I think the tone was dead on and once again the Obama took advantage of the opportunity they had.

If you missed it you can watch it on the video above.

It was an entirely positive ad that barely mentioned John McCain or Sarah Palin and reinforced his key economic messages to insulate against the attacks of socialist, communist, and redistributionist.

And as we have seen in the debates, positive wins, and focus on the middle class, is where the votes are.

As Sarah Palin often says at her events, its a chance to talk to people 'without the filter of the media.'

This campaign has become the model campaign of our time and this ad and bold move,,, adds to the lore of the campaign that they have run.

17People Voted

One hour and fifty five minutes.

Approximately 150 people in line as the day ended.

The two people who worked the polls said it was non stop all day, with possibly 2000+ people having voted at that location.

And they told me that the two other locations nearest them were sending people over to them.

And this was early voting.

It was an amazing experience and judging by the political pins on bags and the conversations I heard,, I'd say 80%+ were voting for Obama.

Now I live in Illinois, but I talked to an 85 year old African American woman after she voted whom I walked to her daughters car who had tears in her eyes. Who sat for nearly two hours.

ME: You ok ma'am
HER: I never thought I'd live to vote for an African American for President

It was a pretty amazing experience to hear. This woman had lived through times when what she did today,,, seemed like an impossibility. We didn't talk a lot, but there are few moments I will never forget in my life and that will be one of them.

I live in Illinois and many may say that 'our votes don't count' because Barack is going to win Illinois by 20+ points. Let me say this,,, from everyone I have talked to about early voting, this state is not acting like our votes don't count.

Above all, I was proud to vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden to be our President and Vice President. Also very proud to vote for our wonderful Senator Dick Durbin for another term.

Now I can use my free time between now and the election to do what I can to help deliver a win.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Something Doesn't Add Up...

So in case you haven't been following....

Their has been unprecedented finger pointing, blame, and name calling going on in the McCain campaign.

This is surprising to me as Republicans are usually the disciplined party. Yet in this campaign,, they have been tearing each other apart in the past week.

Sarah Palin has been taking a beating lately,, and not from Democrats. Instead from 'Senior McCain Aides.'

In the past 4 days they have leaked to the media...

While I think there are serious schisms between the McCain and Palin camps something doesn't add up. Even with hard feelings about the direction of the campaign, this is beyond unprofessional, it is bizarre.

There are many reasons for this but I think it is one of two things.

One, this infighting could mean that their internal numbers are worse than the public poll numbers and they know the race is over and want to get the first shots of blame off.

But I'm not sure I buy that. I know a lot of campaign people, and giving up is not most campaign staffers makeup. You don't dedicate yourself for months and in some cases years, to spend the last week torpedoing your own campaign.

So here is where my paranoia kicks in.....

Are all these leaks the last tactic or 'hail mary' that the McCain team is trying?

Could it be possible they are trying to use the media to exploit these stories and hope that the coverage will be viewed as sexist or unfair towards Sarah Palin.

To attempt to turn Sarah Palin into a sympathetic figure or a victim?

To try and use that perception that to swing women voters back in their direction?

While this sounds and probably is crazy, its one of the ways that Hillary made a big comeback against Obama.

Remember the New Hampshire debate in the primaries. Obama was up 15points over Hillary Clinton when he uttered the ill-timed and delivered 'your likeable enough' line. It cost him New Hampshire and a lot of women turned on him through the rest of the primaries.

The difference is this Obama is different.

He learned his lesson running against Hillary Clinton though and despite Sarah Palin presenting opportunity after opportunity to attack her... he hasn't taken the bait.

Either way, whether it's true dislike between the two or a conspiracy theory contrived by me,, this is the oddest conclusion to a campaign.

Imagine if they win,,, how do you work together when your staffs have been destroying each other?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Involved in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District?

One of the hardest things for me in the writing of this blog is getting to everything that I want to write.

There are many issues, people, and campaigns I wish I had the time to write about and get statements on the record. But since no group or company has bought ads for me through Google Sense I am confined to writing in my free time and many articles get left half completed or never even started.

In the year or so of 17people, there is one article that I began writing a couple months ago that had I finished I would have looked prophetic. The article was about a one term Congresswoman from Minnesota named Michelle Bachman.

A fellow blogger and individual I am so fortunate has become a dear friend of mine over the last year wrote me over two months ago about Bachman and said I should research and write about her.

If only I had, because I would have been way ahead of the political shit storm that Bachman engulfed herself in last week.

It was last week when Bachman went on Hardball and invoked Joe McCarthy-like statements that created a feverish national stir. Bachman’s statements were cited by Colin Powell the weekend he endorsed Barack Obama and were echoed by former Republican Governor of Minnesota Arne Carlson who said her statement helped push him to endorse Obama as well.

For the past couple months I have been occasionally looking into history of Bachman but the Presidential campaign and financial crisis kept pushing the 17people expose on her back. After last week many sites have done in depth expose’s on her which are far more in-depth than I could write.

The biggest problem for me in writing about Bachman involved deciding which of her ignorant statements over the years was actually worth writing here. This is the person who said a pipeline in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge would ‘warm the ground’ for the Caribou. That ‘warm the ground’ statement while exposing her ignorance is better than the many statements she has made which I view as divisive and hateful.

Instead of finishing this piece with a string of Bachman statements that irritate me and mocking and demeaning her as many would expect from me I will take a different path., the path I like to call the Obama path. Instead of getting in the dirt an nastiness and making myself feel good by beating up on Bachman, I will instead keep my temper and worse instincts in check.

Instead 17people will hit Bachman where it hurts, by encouraging readers of this blog to take a role in defeating her at the ballot box. The great thing about the US House of Representatives is we can vote out any of them, every two years.

Last week’s McCarthy statements have done more damage than the endorsements of Powell and Carlson for Obama, they have put her job in jeopardy.

In fact her statements so outraged the public that her opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg,,, that’s right Elwyn Tinklenberg has raised over $1million AND the National Republican Congressional Committee has pulled their support for her campaign.

I strongly encourage you, as I have to give what you can, $5, $10, or more if you can to help defeat Michelle Bachman. Even if you are not from Minnesota, you can make a difference and if you are from Minnesota,,, GET INVOLVED FOR ELWYN!!!!

To contribute to Elwyn Tinklenberg click on this link.

Alaskan Obama Endorsement?

And the hits just keep on coming.

The latest surprise endorsement for Barack Obama to go along with the avalanche of Conservatives from Colin Powell, William Weld, Arne Coleman, Christopher Buckley, Larry Pressler, Ken Adelman, Scott McClellan, Christopher Hitchens comes the the Anchorage Daily News.

Now I am not sure whether the Anchorage Daily News is a 'liberal' newspaper, but it is the Anchorage Daily News from Alaska.

I just learned that this newspaper, which is the biggest in Alaska endorsed Senator Barack Obama despite the fact that their own Governor was chosen as Vice President for John McCain.

Read the Obama endorsement here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

17People Scolding Democrats

I received a scathing email the other day from a conservative who said I am hypocritical for not having commented on recent gaffes made by Democrats when I have been subliminally skewering Republicans like Michelle Bachman, Robin Hayes, and Sarah Palin. In all honesty the email was phrased much nastier but this is family blog so I will avoid a direct transcription.

While I am a fierce partisan I think this blog has a pretty stellar track record of criticizing Democrats and to show my independence will address the statements of Joe Biden, John Murtha, and John Kerry.


So Joe Biden said that they world will 'test' Obama in the first six months of his Presidency. My love for Joe Biden is pretty well stated on this blog and I know he will be a great VP.

Yet my man Joe has a propensity to say some things in ways I wish he wouldn't. He tends to make certain statements more dramatic than they need to be and this one falls in that category.

It's pretty clear to all voters that whomever the next President is will have serious tests already. The state the country is in right now is going to be a serious test and as we learned with the financial crisis,,, a 'test' can come at anytime.


Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha made a stupid comment about being Western Pennsylvania voters not voting for Obama because the area is racist.

There is something wrong with John Murtha, he is a bigger gaffe machine than Joe Biden is and quite honestly have gotten tired of him for quite some time. A couple years back I respected him for being a strong Democratic anti-war voice when it wasn't popular.

But since that point every time Murtha has been on TV I have held my breath hoping that he wouldn't screw up and 50% of the time it seems like he does. Murtha is now in trouble in his district which was a very safe seat up only 5 points in the last poll.

If Murtha loses he brought it on himself and I wouldn't miss him and his bloviating.

I won't make any excuses for Murtha, but the difference between his statement and that of Bachman and Hayes is that he at least was talking about his own area, his own home. He didn't say the whole country was racist, or that conservatives hated all people who work hard and believe in God.

Sometimes not painting with a broad brush is better than labeling groups of people.


Even Republican readers of this blog know that I have been consistent in my blasting of 2004 Democratic Nominee John Kerry and as a result I am not shocked that he has rendered himself an embarrassment once again.

Kerry made an off color joke about the famous 'boxers of briefs' question that was first asked to Bill Clinton I believe on MTV in 1992. Kerry's initial answer was actually kind of funny when he said he considered answering the question 'commando'.

But then as John Kerry is prone to do,,, he just dug himself a hole and that McCain said 'depends'. Kerry's response as to why he said what he did was pretty painful. Jon Stewart had a much funnier take on it last night in part of what he called 'Gaffe-In' . The Kerry part starts around the 3:28 part of the video.

With any luck John Kerry can go help Barack by doing what he did after his infamous busted 'stuck in Iraq' joke before the 2006 mid-term election. What he did that helped after miserably failing to deliver that joke was go back to Massachusetts and not talk anymore.

The Iraq joke was something the Republicans tried to use against the Democrats, the Result was that the Dems took control of the Senate and the House. So maybe a bad John Kerry joke in 2008 followed by his hiding from public life,,, will lead to massive Democratic victory's in 2008.

So please Senator Kerry, just go away.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poll Of The Day

Multiple times I have written that I do not care about national polls and care most about state polls. So this morning I was reviewing the polls of the day at my favorite site for non-partisan information,

I like to look at the daily polls which come from the various states which I view as a better view of how things work than national polls.

While I rarely see a number that I feel deserves its own blog,,, this one does.

The latest poll in Alaska shows Obama down 11 points. Now double digits and being over 50% is a big lead and a solid state for the Republicans.

However,, this is the home state of the 'most popular Governor in the country' who just happens to be,,,, on the Republican ticket and the worse news for Governor Palin is that the numbers which you can see below show that there is a trend towards Obama in Alaska. A gain for Obama-Biden of six points in the last two weeks.

McCain Palin 54
Obama-Biden 35
McCain Palin 55
Obama-Biden 38
McCain Palin 53
Obama-Biden 42
Check the numbers for yourself in this Anchorage Press Article.

Additionally, the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll said that "now, Palin’s qualifications to be president rank as voters’ top concern about McCain’s candidacy".

So Palin is a major concern of the voters nationally, has higher negatives than positives with a W-like 47-38 against, and is seeing her own state's polls tighten.

Is the Palin pick starting to look like a bit of a liability?

In the words of Sarah Palin...

You Betcha!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Urbanathlon and 'My America'

This post has been in the hopper since Saturday, but needless to say it has grown in meaning to me as some in this country have said some things that have stirred some feelings within me.

The picture above is of an eight foot wall I had to climb over at the 10.5 mile mark of Men's Health Urbanathlon this past Saturday. It was the latest goal that I set for myself in a year of a commitment to taking care of myself and getting into shape.

I wrote earlier this year about the 'Biggest Loser' competition I was in with some friends of mine. Since that time I have embarked on a mission that in many cases is harder than losing weight and getting in shape,, which is maintaining that condition and weight.

So about two months ago I decided to run in and start training for Urbanathlon, a unique race that requires both endurance and strength. The race was 10.5 miles and had multiple tough obstacles at various points throughout the course.

Running the bleachers at Soldiers Field, monkey bars, and the 8 foot wall were just a couple of the obstacles that were involved. (Click on this link to see the course)

I trained hard for this race and it payed off. I ran around 8minute miles, never had to walk, and navigated many of the obstacles with ease due to smart and tireless training. I set a time goal to finish the race and the obstacles (which didn't count in the 10.5miles) in under 100minutes which I am proud to say I did.

I was ready for what was in front of me but when I got to the Marine Hurdles I hit a snag.

These 5 foot tall wooden hurdles proved to be tougher than I expected and even though I had increased my strength and fitness I just couldn't jump high enough to get my body in position to get over the hurdle. The hurdles were on the 31st Street Beach and the sand further limited my already unimpressive vertical jump.

10, 11, 15 times I tried to jump and hold myself on the hurdle (my arms have the bruises to show it) and I was wondering how I would get over those damn things.

"Hey buddy, I'll give you a boost," a voice shouted out.

I had watched many people get a boost over the hurdles as many people could not get over on their own, but the 'boosters' were usually people that couldn't get over the hurdles themselves. It was a bit of a quid pro quo.

The cuts and bruises on my arms caused me to accept this guys offer of help and I got over the 1st of the three hurdles. He then helped three other people with boost's over that 1st hurdle.

I went to the second hurdle and thought I'd be able to get over this one to and as I threw myself up and held onto the top of the hurdle with all my strength,,,, I yet again fell to the sand in failure.

"Wait, I'll help you!" the same guy said as he flung himself over the 1st hurdle with no help.

At this point, I checked my pride at the door and helped the other struggling people over the hurdles as the random guy helped me and accepted his offer of help for the 2nd and 3rd hurdles as well.

I never caught the guys name or saw him again, but I remember thinking it was really nice of him to help me and the others.

It was especially selfless since he obviously didn't need any help getting over the hurdles himself, but he took the time to help others instead of being self absorbed with his 'personal time' for the race.

Up until that point in the race I couldn't say the same thing about myself.

After the hurdles there was about 4 miles and two tough obstacles left in the race including the 8 foot wall in the picture above at the very end of the race.

So as I picked up my pace and hurdled myself over the Taxi Hurdle (yes, an actual taxi hurdle) I only had the wall left to negotiate. This was where all the pull-ups from the last two months would pay off. But before I made my leap toward the wall I saw someone on the wall struggling to hold onto the wall. I ran up and gave the lady bit of a push,, she got herself over the wall and over her shoulder shouted a quick 'thanks'.

I never saw her after that but I can say that I still had to get myself over the wall.

So I jumped into the wall grabbed the rope and got one hand on top of the wall. I started to pull myself up and then all of a sudden I had someone give me a boost. I didn't ask for it, but as I got myself over the wall a bit quicker and easier, I wasn't upset by it.

So twice during this race which I had trained so hard for,, a good Samaritan gave me a 'hand up' and helped me accomplish my goal.

So what has 'grown in meaning to me' as I mentioned in the opening line of this blog?

This race was in "Chicago", the home of the maligned "Chicago Political Machine" by the RNC, my guess is Chicago falls outside the 'Real America' based on the comments of Sarah Palin, is probably 'Un-American' as Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann said, and may be even worse if it is considered 'liberal' like Congressman Robin Hayes of North Carolina said in introducing Palin the other day.

I strongly urge you to click the links in this paragraph if you haven't already.

First off, I love my 'big' city of Chicago so are they trying to make me ashamed of where I live?

It's a beautiful place that has many good people. The help that the two people gave me during the race confirmed that to me yet again. Chicago has amazing culture, architecture, history, and I know there are many hard working loyal people here.

According to the statements and views by the Republicans above * should I assume the people that were 'Good Samaritans' that helped me in my race were from 'small towns' because Chicagoans are incapable of charity?

The statements of Palin, Bachmann, and Hayes are heinous and divisive statements that are the worst of what our country stands for. They go to the comments made by Colin Powell who called out Bachmann and the Republicans for going 'beyond political fighting back and forth' and dividing us.

The ultra divisive language that has been used against 'big city's' seems to have taken the place of usual 'radical right' targets like gays and people that are against guns.

What are those that are pushing this agenda trying to achieve?

I know that some people will criticize me for turning a story about a race into a sermon that is clearly partisan politics.

Yet the run reminded me how great a city I live in and I won't let my city be discarded as 'Un-American' because of our size.

I hope people have the same pride in their city's that I do, whether it is big or small.

The most often used line by Presidents after they are elected is 'there is more that unites us than divides us.' I believe this line is true and that above our personal localities, we are all proud Americans.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Colin Powell: 17People Reader?

If you missed the strong and eloquent endorsement of that Colin Powell gave on Meet The Press this weekend in favor of Barack Obama you will see yet another example of an intellectual and thoughtful Republican who has tired of the tone, tactics, and rhetoric of the McCain-Palin ticket.

The video of the endorsement part of his speech is below and I hope that my Republican friends who have been angered by what I have written about my disappointment in the path the McCain campaign has taken.

The fact of the matter is that Powell, while not seething partisanship, as I have a tendency to do, took apart piece by piece the McCain campaign. It was a measured, yet if you listen to it, a devastating attack on every aspect of the McCain campaign for the past couple months.

I often wrote during the debates,,, 'it's not just what you say, but how you say it, and equally as important,, how you look when you say it.'

Powell, like Obama in the debates never got angry or heated, but in his endorsement he hammered away harder than anything Obama said during any of the debates.

  • He blasted as hard as anyone on the qualifications on Sarah Palin to assume the Presidency and more importantly said what her selection says about John McCain's judgement.
  • He spelled out clearly the fact the the leadership that Obama has shown during the campaign is the kind of cool and steady leadership that we need as opposed to the not so steady reactions of John McCain.
  • Better than most he tackled the Bill Ayers attacks as what they are,,, 'narrow'

This endorsement has been labeled by some as not a surprise. Rush Limbaugh has even tried to invoke race into it by implying that Powell endorsed Obama because of race.

I urge you to listen to Powell in the video below.

He has been friends with McCain for 25 years and even contributed to him in the primary. What gets me the most though is not that he endorsed Obama, but the strength with which he did so. He didn't jut endorse Obama, he destroyed McCain and the path of the Republican party.

But I have to wonder if Colin Powell reads this blog. Many of his attacks on Republicans and disappointment with McCain were taken straight from these pages and one in particular hit me.

On Tuesday October 14 I wrote that I wish Obama handled the 'are you a Muslim question' stronger. And in fact gave him a line to use.

"I'm not Arab. But so what if I was?"

Go to the 4:30 mark of the video below and listen to what Powell says after he says 'The really right answer is..."

And then listen to what he says after about a soldier that he read an article about. It's moving and it's powerful,, period.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Road Back to Likeability?

There is no question that I have been very hard on John McCain in the past couple months.

The rhetoric and tactics of the McCain campaign have pissed more than most Republicans of recent vintage,, like George Bush.

I expected dirty politics from Rove, Cheney, and Bush.

Why McCain's campaign tactics bother me so much is that for years I admired John McCain. Not just for his distinguished service in defending our country, but also for the way he has carried himself as a Senator.

He ran a great campaign for President in 2000, and above all he has been a likeable person. Whether on shows like Letterman, Chris Matthews, or Meet The Press with Tim Russert, I always felt like I believed what he was saying. For much of the past eight years he was a rarity amongst politicians.

The John McCain of this campaign abandoned that mentality in this general election.

He has allowed himself to be 'handled'. There's an old line in campaigns that was most famously used by the Reagan campaigns. "Let Reagan be Reagan" they would say when Reagan had problems.

This strategy was not used by Team McCain in the past 5 months. McCain has been micro-managed and the result has been a candidate who has not been true to his own personality and it has showed throughout the campaign.

But just maybe things are changing after the debate the other night. I think the polls and reactions to all three debates may have finally shown John McCain that he has to be himself the last three weeks of this campaign. That he can't listen to the same people that were puppeteers to President Bush in his two victories.

I also have to say that not taking the bait and invoking Jeremiah Wright after he said he wouldn't has been something admirable. The uncomfortableness of the way he handled the Ayers thing showed me he wasn't buying into what the Hannity's of the world were pushing him to do.

McCain has to get back to being himself. It probably will not just to give him a chance to win, it could very well be too late for that, but more importantly he can find a way to lose with some dignity and respect.

By changing course he can finish the campaign and remind people, even like me, why we liked him in the first place.

Last night was a move in that direction.

I watched McCain on David Letterman and thought he was really good. Letterman asked him tough questions and drilled him good, but McCain was funny and likeable. He didn't dodge questions and while I don't agree with his policies or believe that Sarah Palin was his first choice,, think he did well.

Even better, instead of coming in defensive, McCain did what he should have done and admitted that he 'screwed up' by skipping out on his last appearance.

Then came the Al Smith Dinner in New York City last night.

I have to give both candidates credit,, they were hilarious. Of course depending on who you are rooting for you will say that your candidate was funnier, but in this case I can say I think they both did a great job.

Click here for McCain's speech.

Click here for Obama's speech.

As someone who has been tough on John McCain, I think he had a great day yesterday. Not a momentum changing day, but a day unlike the debates and recent rallies, made him look both likeable, real, and like he was not letting advisors 'handle him'.