Wednesday, April 30, 2008

John Edwards Should NOT Endorse

After he dropped out of the race I wrote an article praising John Edwards and in the past two weeks friends of mine have called and emailed asking, 'who and when is John Edwards going to endorse?' Edwards has kept a low profile and far away from the fight of Obama-Clinton and think it has kept him from lowering himself at all the way Bill Richardson has in his battles with James Carville (which Carville is winning).

Like many in politics I believe Edwards thought the race would be over by now. Now the question is does he throw his support behind a candidate before his home state votes on Tuesday? Read an article yesterday which said the Edwards will spend this week in Florida avoiding the campaign in North Carolina.

I see it this way. While both candidates paid lip service to Edwards key issue of poverty right after he dropped out,, neither of them has carried that mantle at all since. If one of them had, think Edwards would have already endorsed.

The race has also deteriorated into a bloody mess. Surrogates are fighting on talk shows, TV ads have gone negative, and both candidates have serious issues that have been exposed. By not endorsing he has kept himself clean of the whole mess and I think it has proved to be smart politics.

If he were to endorse Hillary, the chances are she would still lose North Carolina and that would weaken him. Remember in 2004 Bush/Cheney won 56% of the NC vote against Kerry and Edwards. Supporting a losing candidate would not look good for him.
He also would have to answer a lot of questions about how 'the man of the people' he claims to be would have to explain why is endorsing the 'candidate of special interests' that he labeled Hillary during the campaign.

I think it would be odd for him to endorse Obama for a couple reasons. 1st, Obama is weak right now with no momentum. Also think Edwards meant what he during the campaign about Obama. That he thinks Obama is 'too nice' or 'not tough enough'. Edwards is a fighter who knows first hand the attacks of the Republicans and saw John Kerry shy away from the fight in 2004 and think he sees a bit of Kerry in Obama.

Plus he would fall under the gun of the Clinton attack machine and that would again be a blow to his reputation.
I think Edwards left the campaign with grace and dignity and judging by the past 2+ months that 'grace and dignity' left the campaign with him. If he doesn't endorse many will say it is weak move by him.

Those people would be wrong.

Think that Edwards, like many Dems including myself, are fed up and disappointed with both of our candidates. He will vote for one of them but why should he campaign with or work the next 6 days for either of them in this primary? What have either done recently to inspire anyone?

If Edwards endorses either of the candidates, fine. But think he should send a message to them, earn our votes.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Big Endorsement for Hillary

After what has been three months of a flood of endorsement's for Barack Obama Hillary Clinton nabbed an endorsement that should have an impact for her in the May 6th North Carolina Primary. The picture above is that of North Carolina Governor Mike Easley, and yesterday he announced he is endorsing Hillary.

In the past few weeks I have talked of the importance of having Gubernatorial endorsements in primaries so feel the Easley endorsement is news worthy whether people around the country know who he is or not. As opposed to the endorsement's of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Ohio's Ted Strickland, and Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell this endorsement comes late in the game. These three Governors were working their states for Hillary for months while Easley endorsed just 8 days out.

Some may say that a last minute endorsement for a candidate down 12 points in the polls will not have much of an impact. Even with Easley's support, Clinton will probably not win the Tar Heel state. However, a recent example of late Gubernatorial support was that of Charlie Crist in Florida. It made a difference for John McCain as he pulled out a decisive victory where Romney was up in the polls.

This endorsement should also help solidify the base of voters that Hillary has had already and if she travels a few days with Easley it should help her with late undecideds. The one poll number that has been prevalent since the New Hampshire Primary is that Clinton has 'closed' fast in the last 72 hours of each election. People that make their decisions late have been breaking towards her.

In North Carolina the last image Democratic voters will see is her with their popular Governor who has been unbeatable by Republicans in a Republican leaning state. The same holds true in Indiana, where the last images Hoosier state voters will see is Hillary with two time Governor and current Senator Evan Bayh.

Combine those invaluable free media opportunities with a field and "Get Out the Vote" operation which has been very effective and Tuesday could be a successful day for Hillary.

The problem for Hillary is this. She has to win North Carolina or Indiana. She can't claim momentum by going 0 for 2. She is still down and at this point of a campaign 'moral' victories are not.

Yet if she can win Indiana and get North Carolina under six or seven points,,, she will have a real case to make that she should be the nominee.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Campaign Limps On

The saga of the Democratic Presidential Primary appears it will continue on after Hillary Clinton posted a decisive victory last evening in Pennsylvania. Clinton's 10 point victory is what she needed to stay semi-relevant in the campaign. It proves one point that everyone in politics knows and I have written many times before,,, never count out the Clinton's.

However, the Clinton campaign remains in a no-win situation. She won't win more states, more votes, or more delegates by the time the final primary takes place on June 3rd. The kitchen sink has been thrown at Obama in the past 6 weeks and he is holding his own in national polls and cracked a million votes in Pennsylvania.

Clinton has to basically win out in the bigger states to make any case as to why she should be President. If she loses Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, or Oregon then there are going to be calls by many for her to drop out of the race. She won't drop out, but she has cornered herself into a no-win situation. Even if she pulls off a deal where the Super Delegates give her the nomination, it will be tainted and will create resentment towards her that will follow her through the campaign and if she won the nomination.

But she deserves credit for pulling off the victory in Pennsylvania. As written here 6 weeks ago I gave big credit to Ted Strickland the Governor of Ohio for getting her the big win there. The same holds true in Pennsylvania as popular Governor Ed Rendell used his clout to deliver for Hillary. Governors as CNN's Roland Martin said last night, "hold the purse strings" and unlike a Senator (ie Bob Casey) can really muscle votes and support.

Now for Obama. This guy can't close and it is continuing to raise doubts in the minds of many. He's a phenomenally attractive candidate, but as happened in New Hampshire, Super Tuesday, Ohio, and Texas the late breaking voters are leaning towards Hillary. I watched his speech from Evansville, IN last night and saw a very different kind of event than what went on in Iowa or Wisconsin. The event was an older crowd and the speech seemed to lack the fire of his earlier

Want to follow up on one point from the Pennsylvania Preview article from Monday and the interest in looking at the turnout numbers. The prevailing wisdom is that negative campaigns drive turnout down and my fear was that the fervor around this campaign may have taken a hit by Clinton staying in the race.

Well the numbers of last evening prove otherwise. Decided to compare the turnout of the 2002 Gubernatorial Primary between two favorite local sons, Rendell and Bob Casey. It was a hard contested race between the Philadelphia base of Rendell and the Pittsburgh/rural base of Casey whose father was a phenomenally popular Governor.

Rendell and Casey combined for 1,242,236 million votes between both of them. Hillary Clinton last night received 1,258,245 votes on her own and Obama pulled over a million on his own.

While many including myself think that this race dragging on is hurting the party, the voters want to have their say and the negative air surrounding this race yielded the biggest primary turnout in recent Pennsylvania history.

The bottom line, if the eventual nominee can get some time to heal the party, these turnout numbers are very good for Democrats.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Honor of Earth Day

The name '17people' as stated in the profile of this blog has to deal with the "truth" to me. My goal is to try and shine some light on factually inaccurate statements and received an email this afternoon that both fits a lie and the theme of earth day.

The email which I will not post here word for word because of its inaccuracies is titled "A Tale of Two Houses". It essentially questions Al Gore's commitment to energy efficiency by comparing it to George W Bush's Crawford, TX ranch.

If you receive this email please respond to the sender with some of the following information.

This Republican propaganda is once again wrong.

It may have been true a year ago but no longer is.

- Gore's house is now powered by solar energy
- They have installed a geothermal system
- Upgraded windows and duct work to improve efficiency
- Installed entire house with more energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs
- Created a rainwater collection system for irrigation and water management
- He also pays for CO2 offsets

Not to mention Gore is fitting his parents farm with the capacity to
run on wind power.

Why didn't he do it sooner you may ask? It was against zoning laws in
the Nashville suburb he was in to install solar panels.

If there is anyone who practices what they preach and put their money where
their mouth is for a cause it is Al Gore. The profits from An Inconvenient Truth movie and book, the Nobel Prize money, and at least some
of his own money has gone into the "We" campaign.

While many will try to tear down Al Gore I believe he will prove to be a tough target because unlike many, he truly believes in what he is doing.

Earth Day

As 17people evolves into a better blog one thing that I want to accomplish is to highlight not just political commentary, but issues that are important to me.

On this Earth Day, 17people is strongly encouraging all readers of this blog to join the "we can solve the climate crisis" campaign which has been founded and in many ways funded by Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore.

17people has often written about Gore on this blog and my respect and reverence for Gore is pretty clear. The "we' campaign is a classic example of living by your own words. Gore has recognized and brought a pivotal world issue to the forefront and with our help we can force action to be taken by our Federal, State, and Local Governments.

While I know there are Global Warming 'Skeptics' out there, even a skeptic can make small changes to make a contribution to our environmental well being. Things like walking to lunch, buying compact florescent bulbs for your house, or turning down the heat and air conditioning when you aren't home.
All three of these actions have the added benefit of being personally rewarding. Skeptic or not being healthier and saving money is good, right?
Walking to lunch means you'll burn about 100 calories/mile. This means you'll feel better, boost your metabolism a bit, and should lead you to be healthier. All while drastically reducing the carbon output from your car. I have started this myself and despite the fact there aren't any sidewalks on the street around my business it gives me at least one opportunity a work day when I am not typing or sitting.

The other two things you do will save you money! Seriously you have to put money to buy the light bulbs but they will lower your energy bill. It doesn't hurt you at all. And turning off the A/C or heat while you are gone also means a lower bill at the end of the month. We all know there are times during the summer or winter that this isn't possible, but during those times you can raise or lower it a couple degrees to keep the temperature manageable.

All three of these things are simple and require little or no effort on your part other than just doing it.

Now I have to have full disclosure in the respect that I drive an SUV that gets less than 20 miles a gallon. This is certainly a bit of hypocrisy if I am going to lecture people on being more environmental. I do commit that when my lease runs out I will be buying or leasing a hybrid or much more fuel efficient car.

People, oil prices today are near $120/barrel and the President of Iran said this weekend it is still under priced. Soon gas will be nearly $4.50/gallon. We all need to make this an issue with our government and do what we can to protect our environment for future generations including the current one.

Please visit and see many other ways you can help or lower your pollution tendencies.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Preview

For a wannabe political blog this blog has tried it's best to avoid writing about the deterioration of the Clinton-Obama showdown.

Yet, avoiding the mudslinging of the Democratic Primary come tomorrow night the only people that matter will decide the winner. That would be actual voters. The pundits and their need to exaggerate every statement or body language will now get to say how right or wrong they are.

Here is how I see Pennsylvania stacking up. Neither candidate is riding any wave of momentum as Obama was early on. This is a state that plays to the candidate Hillary Clinton has portrayed herself as, which is the candidate of the 'working class'. Pennsylvania like many states is best known for it's big city's and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will of course be factors, but think that the rural/small town voters will be especially vital in this race.

That would seem to play into Hillary Clinton's hands, but I just have this gut feeling that Obama will do better here than expected. While the press, along with McCain and Clinton have tried to make the 'bitter' remarks against him I am going to make the gamble that voters aren't as stupid as politicians treat them. I think that many of the 'small town' folks are going to say, 'hell yeah I'm bitter' that my jobs gone, or that my gas is $4/gallon and I want a change.

The downside for Obama is that the 'change' message has been lost a bit in the past 6 weeks in the mire of Jeremiah Wright, Samantha Powers, Geraldine Ferraro, Bill Clinton, inappropriate questions to Chelsea Clinton, fictional Bosnian Snipers, and last but not least, the 'bitter' comment which made the tragic mistake of making sense.

I am afraid to predict an Obama victory in Pennsylvania because I have been so wrong in all my predictions, but think he will make it a close.

The number I am most interested in is the voter turnout number. Democrats have made much about the drastic increase in many of the states compared to past turnouts. After 6+ weeks with very little positive news and both candidates taking body blows if Democratic turnout stays high, it will be a bad sign for Republicans come November.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Brother Dan Federici

Yesterday one of the original members of the E Street Band, organist and accordion player, Dan Federici passed away at the age of 58. Federici passed away at Sloan-Kettering hospital after losing a three year battle with melanoma.

As a die hard fan of the entire E Street Band I am very saddened by the news. 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.

Today I send my regards to his friends and family, and along with my fellow fans mourn his loss.

Many people often ask me for reasons why I like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. One of the major reasons is that they are not like any other band. Some bands have pianos, others have saxophones, some use an organ, violins, harmonicas or even accordions. E Street has all of the above coupled with drums, bass, and four guitars. The depth and variety of sounds is what separates E Street from any other band ever.

Federici led to this variety with his immense talent and gift playing the organ and accordion.

Bruce Springsteen said during Federici's recent leave of absence:

"Danny is one of the pillars of our sound and has played beside me as a great friend for more than 40 years."[

Will never forget being there when Federici causing Miller Park to go nuts by blasting out a solo "Beer Barrel Polka" on the accordion. Have also seen video (which I can't find) of his playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at Fenway Park in the 1st ever concert there. His organ can probably best be heard in the Springsteen hit song Hungry Heart. On the following links are a couple of other videos of Federici performances on less well known E Street Band songs Kitty's Back and Sandy.

I was fortunate to see two of Danny's final shows in Chicago before he took a leave of absence in November 2007 to get treatment. He may have been sick, but noone could tell by the way he played. On the second show I was at we sat to the right of the stage. The side with Danny, Nils Lofgren, and Clarence Clemons. It rocked, especially seeing the three of them flash a big smile when the Boss put his hands in the shape of a 'T' for the 1st playing of Thunder Road in nearly five years.

Danny Federici brought energy, talent, and charisma to every show he was at. He also pulled off something few have ever done. He made playing the organ and accordion look cool. My guess is that those are two instruments probably not associated with cool.

Danny will be missed by many including myself who will remember him for his incredible talent and being an integral part of my favorite band, the E Street Band.

When you have time please check out and consider contributing to "The Danny Federici Melanoma Fund."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Biggest Loser Finale Transformations, See for yourself

I could write and write and write about the transformations on The Biggest Loser and the lessons that I learned from it and .

Yet words can't really do it justice. Take a look at some of my favorite competitors and how they did of visit and you can watch video, see pictures, get recipes, watch 2 minute replays of the season.

This show is awesome and if you want to lead a healthier life. Whether or not you are a few pounds overweight, in shape, or way overweight you will learn from this show.

Yesterday I uploaded pictures to show comparisons, but am editing the site today.

New season of The Biggest Loser begins in October for any new converts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Well, I generally avoid two posts a day, especially lately because the material to write about is sooo bad.

If your like me then you will understand how I usually start my day when I get to the office.

Its a subconscious checklist of websites that I visit. 1st, I check my work email and make sure I didn't forget anything. 2nd, I check my personal email, 3rd, I check my fantasy baseball teams (which are ridiculously good this year), and 4th I go through about 5 websites to see whats going on. Everybody has a different set of websites, hopefully your list includes, say,

One of the websites I check almost everyday is As previously written here I am a huge Boss fan and am always looking for updates on the tours and tickets. I missed it this morning and as a result didn't see that like me the 'Small Town' comments by Barack Obama caused the man who has written about small towns in his music for over 30 years today endorsed, Barack Obama.

The letter or endorsement reads as follows.

Dear Friends and Fans:

Like most of you, I've been following the campaign and I have now seen
and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and
shoulders above the rest.

He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next
President. He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35
years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex
problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the
potential of its gathered spirit. A place where "...nobody crowds you, and
nobody goes it alone."

At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the
exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters
are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and
fabric of the man's life and vision, so well described in his excellent book,
Dreams of My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real
issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming
our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment.

After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great
American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator
Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st
Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as

Over here on E Street, we're proud to support Obama for President.

Bruce Springsteen

As usual the Boss eloquently and succinctly makes a solid argument in favor of what he believes.

In a much more precise manner he made my point in my post earlier today that the critics of his words are using 'exaggeration'.

Now I love the Boss and find a lot of knowledge and inspiration in his words. I follow him on many issues and as I have stated before I voted for Barack Obama in the Illinois Primary. I am less inclined to give my full throated backing to Obama yet though.

I do find it interesting though the timing of the endorsement coming on the heels of the stupidity of the attacks on his 'bitter' comments about small towns. This holds true that either when he is attacked or gives a great speech major endorsements flock to him.

Look at the history.

  1. After his Iowa victory speech Senator Claire McCaskill's daughter tells her mom, 'you have to support this guy' and McCaskill does. Becoming the 1st female Senator to endorse against the 1st viable woman candidate.

  2. After Bill Clinton's Jesse Jackson comparisons and belittling of Obama in South Carolina, Ted Kennedy and a good chunk of the Kennedy clan throw their weight and endorsements behind Obama.

  3. After Obama's eloquent and poignant speech on race, Bill Richardson, a long time Clinton loyalist decides to endorse Obama.

  4. After exploiting and exaggerating remarks made at the San Fran fundraiser, Bruce Springsteen, a voice for 30+ years of small towns, endorses Obama.

I am happy that the Boss will be back in the political arena this year and if it is Obama as the nominee I think he will be a big help as he was for John Kerry in 2004 with a much better candidate.

Keep in mind, that Springsteen played to a huge crowd in Wisconsin a few days before the last election where he played "No Surrender" and Kerry won the state by less that 8,000 votes. It may have helped.

"Bitter" Remarks Accurate

There has been a lot of talk recently discussing and digging through every comment made by Hillary, Obama, and McCain.


This once interesting campaign has become boring and dull. Now its all about nitpicking every word so the press and the other candidates can generate controversy. I usually leave this nitpicking off 17people, but the latest statement of controversy hit me.

Barack Obama's recent statement that has caused all kinds of consternation was this:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small
towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's
replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush
administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these
communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or
religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant
sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their

Now as with any comment this probably could have been said with a little more tact. But as someone who has worked on campaigns in 'small town America' Barack Obama's comments are dead on.

Small town America has been forgotten by the government and shit on by American industry. Go into many of these towns and you will see what NAFTA has meant to 'small towns'. Textile, furniture, manufacturing factories are now mausoleums and unemployment rates are in the double digits.

I worked in a couple towns like this in my political days. For example, Martinsville, VA. This town was crushed when Tultex closed their factory literally overnight leaving roughly 3000 workers unemployed. The result, Martinsville had an unemployment rate around 11percent when I lived there. Or Burlington, IA where Burlington Northern left the town it named itself after to build its trains somewhere else.

As most readers of 17people know, I have been lukewarm on Obama this entire campaign. He has done little to move me on issues or in rhetoric. This statement, though not in a policy speech, actually spoke to me because of my experience in small towns and 17people is here to defend Obama.

Hillary and McCain have both pounced on the Obama comments, calling them elitist. They do this because these two 'yawn inducing' candidates have little to stand on. They are dull, lifeless candidates.

Obama was right on when he made this comment and I wish he would defend the comments and use it to raise the issue of poverty. These small towns are full of good people who generally need huge satellite dishes to get TV and have awful access to broadband internet access.

They are much more religious and much more attached to their guns. This isn't a character flaw, this is how they live and who they are.

Democrats love to talk about how they represent the 'working class', but they have done little to help these areas develop either educationally or by providing better opportunities.

Republicans treat these areas differently. They manipulate the similarities on issues like gay marriage, abortion, and guns to distract folks in these towns from the real issues of importance like better health care, education, and jobs.

Barack Obama's comments were accurate and not elitist but he has to take advantage of moments like this to blast his opponents for being 'out of touch' when they act as though these small towns are progressive centers of America.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Just in case the readers of this blog don't go through the comments there was a comment the other day I found so funny I almost got me in trouble at work because I was laughing so much.

A very creative friend of mine with an affinity for Hillary Clinton responded to my, far too serious post about Hillary's embellishments of her experience with a brilliant response.

Thank you to loyal 17people reader, legendary Fantasy Football Commissioner, and someone I've been lucky enough to consider a long distant older brother, Patrick, for writing something far better quality than I usually end up putting on the blog.

Enjoy for yourself.

I was only really ever impressed with Hillary one time.

I don't know if you remember this JC, but Bill was supposed to attend a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza when, unexpectedly, terrorist took over. Hillary had arrived in LA late and so wasn't in the main ballroom when the bad guys struck.

Well, Hillary wasn't going to stand for that, so she launched a one woman all out assault and took those terrorists (who turned out to just be really clever thieves)OUT!

The coolest part was when she used a fire hose to rappel down the side of the building. We need that sort of determination and pluck in our president.

I know a lot of people talk about the time she rescued those two kids from the genetically cloned dinosaurs on Isla Nublar as a standout momment of her first Ladyship, but I think that bit of daring do was pulled off more by the cleverness of Dr. Ian Malcolm than anything she did.

And don't get me started on the time she rallied her fellow gladiators and finally got to take her revenge on the man who had killed her family, the Roman man-god Commodus. Sure, she displayed some excellent leadership skills, but she got killed at the end, and I don't want a zombie President in the White House(again).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Current Favorite Show on TV

Some great writers have made their names writing compelling TV shows that people plan their lives or TV's around to never miss. My never ending admiration Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, West Wing, Studio 60) is well chronicled and a part of the reason of my love for politics and rhetoric. There are so many great writers who churn out great scripts, characters, and story lines for years like David Chase (Sopranos), Dick Wolf (Law and Order), David E Kelley (Boston Legal), Alan Ball (Six Feet Under), and many others.

My Aunt Cindy, a brilliant writer in her own right, has taught me to support writers and creative TV shows because great writing should be rewarded with viewership.

This principled stand for me is skewed by one thing. I love Reality TV.

Not all of it, but I can get as hooked on a season of Survivor, Big Brother, or Apprentice as anyone. There is something about watching real people show their real colors and character that is a draw to me.

Late last year I stumbled upon The Biggest Loser and since then, with the aid of the writers strike, it has become my number one 'can't miss' show of the week.

When I first heard of the show three or four years ago I thought the worst of it. Figured that it would take advantage of heavy people and do so in a demeaning way. Turned out I was a loser for thinking so. The show is amazing and deals with some of the many issues facing our country, including health, nutrition and obesity.

The transformations are absolutely amazing and one can't help but root for and love the people on the show. In last evenings penultimate episode of the season I was in awe of the progress the remaining participants had made. In last nights weigh-in, the final four contestants lost 51 lbs combined! On any week this would be an amazing amount of weight lost. Yet, if you factor in the fact that these four already lost 401 lbs up to that point of the game, it is unbelievable.

These kind of results are not typical and totally transferable to a normal life. Becasue most people can't take 15+ weeks off to go on a reality show where their job is to workout and eat healthy. This is a totally controlled environment. Yet this is where the show is truly great, it is designed to equip the contestants to be successful when they are not on the "Biggest Loser Campus." There is a lot of 'product placement' in the show, but unlike seeing a fictional character use a mobile phone, on Biggest Loser you see how these products actually work.

Subway, Quaker, Brita, Ziploc, Pam, Extra, are all companies that have made commitments to get into the health market and my guess is that their 'product placement' has been effective. I can say that I have bought or tried all of these products since watching the show, because of the show.

Unlike most other reality shows where there is a lot of gamesmanship and underhanded crap, the Biggest Loser tends to be more pure. There are times where a player or in this case a team 'throws' a weigh in to try and get a threat removed from the game. Yet for the most part the contestants have their health and goals in mind above all else.

The winner of the show gets $250,000, but unlike the other reality shows with a prize, it seems that by the end of the show the money is a much lower priority because the lives of the contestants are so much better than before. And how the winner is determined is not a plot, a campaign, a speech, a vote, or a 'you're hired' from "The Donald."

The final three or four leave the campus and go home for 4-8 weeks and then come back for the live finale. The winner is the person who has had the biggest percentage of weight loss on the scale. The onus is on the individual and their ability to continue their weight loss after they have left the safety of the game.

I have developed a real emotional attachment to the people in the show. I can't help but root for their success and be amazed by the success that they have made. The two trainers on the show are tough and caring at the same time and have changed the lives of these people with their methods and encouragement.

While I usually reserve this blog for issues and politics, I was so moved by the show last night felt that it was worthy of a 1st rate 17people endorsement.

The finale is next Tuesday at 8edt/7cdt on NBC and I guarantee if you watch it you will wish you watched it the whole season.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Care about what the Candidates Say, NOT their Advisors

You may not know who the picture of the man above is.

This is the infamous Mark Penn who until the other day was the "Chief Campaign Strategist" for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Penn has been a long time Clinton loyalist as pollster to Bill Clinton and has parlayed that success into a very successful consulting career with Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, representing some major corporations and even foreign country's.

Penn resigned recently because he met with a Colombian ambassador as Burson-Marsteller CEO in advocacy for a free trade deal with Colombia. The problem was that Hillary is stated against the free trade deal with Colombia.

I have been very critical of Penn and think he should have been replaced a long time ago. Penn famously said in a memo that 'winning primaries didn't matter' in the midst of Barack Obama's long primary winning streak in February.

It is also fairly common knowledge that Penn is the architect of the "I will be ready on day one" line that has been the message of the Clinton campaign. He was the strategist who decided to run as the incumbent or presumptive nominee, instead of as a transcendent candidate of change.
Yet despite guiding the Clinton campaign in the wrong direction message wise for months it took a meeting, unrelated to the campaign that cost him his job.

As someone who used to work on campaigns, I actually feel for Penn in this situation. Why should we care what his view is on free trade or any other issue is. This is a race that is between the ideas and characters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, not that of their campaign staffs.
While I think he is a mediocre to bad strategist it would be a contradiction of my own writings to say Penn should be fired for the meeting in question. Just as I think the statements of Samantha Powers or Geraldine Ferraro were way overblown, think this Penn meeting is a minor issue at worst.

There is a sweet irony in the Penn meeting though. It was the Clinton campaign that made a huge deal about Austan Goolsbee, an Obama advisor, who met with Canada and said Obama's NAFTA rhetoric was only a 'campaign device'.

Hillary said about this meeting:

"It raises questions about Senator Obama coming to Ohioand giving
speechesabout NAFTA and having his chief economic adviser tellthe Canadian
governmentthat it was just political rhetoric."
As anyone who has ever
worked on a campaign knows, your actions will always effect your candidate and
Penn taking this meeting at the time was stupid, especially when considering the
outrage his campaign expressed in the quote above in a similar situation.

It always disappoints me when people who work their butt's off for campaigns get fired or 'resign' because of a stupid statement or personal mistake. Most these people give up their lives to elect these people and they are held to impossibly high standards and their names are not even on the ballot.

The truth is that Penn should have been fired for doing a bad job not for representing a client in his private career.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hillary Embellishments

Exaggeration of experience baffles me when it comes to political candidates. It seems every year people embellish their personal and professional experiences and every year those same people look like idiots when it turns out they were bending the truth.

Whether it was Al Gore saying he invented the internet or George Bush inventing a record of military service it is not uncommon for candidates to embellish the importance of their past.

The latest version of this stupidity was evident in a story I really didn't consider '17people worthy' and that was the Hillary Clinton, Bosnian Sniper story. In her effort to tout her own experience Hillary told a story about how when she arrived in Bosnia as first lady she had to race to her car dodging the bullets of sniper fire.

It turns out that Hillary had no such drama as she landed and they even have video of her walking the airport with her daughter. Obviously this is the kind of thing that sets people off saying things like "she can't be trusted", but the truth is Hillary has played her first lady foreign policy experience wrong the entire campaign.

Hillary has tried to portray herself as the great international statesman of the Clinton administration. The reality is that Hillary spent most of her time meeting with very important leaders in social and ceremonial settings.

The skeptics say, 'all she did was have tea and crumpets' when she travelled abroad. Those people act as though this is a bad thing and by her exaggeration she does as well.

I remember reading an article a couple years back (which I can't find just yet) that talked about the impact that the Queen of England has in international diplomacy because of the relationships she has formed travelling the world. The article talked about her being able to call Kings or Presidents all through the world and exercising diplomatic magic in some cases. Now the Queen in England has rather limited powers, but through her travels and position she made relationships where she is an incredibly effective diplomat.

Hillary has travelled to more countries and met with more important people than about anyone who has ever run for President. Whether or not she met them in negotiations or at a State Dinner, she has big time experience and personal connections to utilize.

Instead of saying "I've been to over 80 countries and met personally with leaders all over the world", she had to make herself out to be some sort of lead negotiator who was leading soldiers on the battlefield.

While I would never make the "Queen" comparison if I were Hillary she did herself damage by trying to make her experience something it wasn't. By exaggerating her experience and having it exposed, it diminishes the large amount of experience she gained in her time as first lady.

She met foreign leaders, their advisers, and other key people in social settings which in many cases is the best way to develop the kind of relationships necessary. Yet thanks to the famous Clinton imagination, she has undercut her own credibility yet again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Major League Idiots

While this is a political blog, those that know me best are aware of my number one interest. That would be the game of baseball. Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year, opening day. I am a colossal Chicago Cub fan who often aggravates other what I like to call 'idiot Cub fans' by being critical of the Cubs. Loveable losers is not what I want to cheer for, and

Yesterday it appeared Kerry Wood blew the Cubs chances in the 9th inning by hitting the first batter on the FIRST pitch he threw and subsequentlt giving up three runs. The following inning saw new Cub Kosuke Fukodome tie the game with a three run homer. The Cubbies lost the game in the 10th but it caused me to wonder how dumb the people that run Major League Baseball.

In the past few months much was made about the growth of baseball as a business. I think it generated over $6billion in revenue last year. But as excited as I was about baseball being back, I am once again shocked that baseball is so stupid.

Last year the Indians and Mariners started the season in Cleveland where the entire series was snowed out. You would think that Major League Baseball would have scheduled smarter. Instead Cleveland hosted opening day yet again! In that 1st game in the snow last year start Indians catcher Victor Martinez had a hamstring injury. This year with weather in the 40's, Martinez had another injury.

As the day started there was one game postponed and two games battled through weather delays. Thosee three games that are delayed and postponed,, ALL COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED.
  • Yankees-Blue Jays. Weather in New York is bad today. Toronto plays in a dome.
  • Reds- Dbacks. Weather is bad in Cincy, Dbacks play in Arizona and a dome.
  • Cubs- Brewers. Weather is bad in Chicago. Milwaukee plays in a dome.
See a theme here?

Baseball is run by idiots.

Yet the games above aren't the only examples of the stupidity of Major League baseball.

  • Detriot-Kansas City: While KC is not the best weather city, basic geography says it should be warmer, yet they are playing in Detroit.
  • Baltimore- Tampa Bay: Baltimore is home against a team that plays in a dome in Florida.
  • Cleveland-White Sox: Why put two bad weather cities in the same game?
  • Seattle-Texas: Seattle has a retractable roof and Texas is typically great weather. Why waste two weather proof cities against each other?
  • Minnesota- LA Angels: Ditto from above.
  • Houston-San Diego: Ditto from above.

So by this count 9 series really make no sense of the 1st 15 when it comes to weather and all this does is hurt baseball. Teams have two options, either jam in games now or get screwed at the end of the season by losing all their off days.

The other reason this is stupid is because of injuries. Playing in weather like Chicago only puts players at risk. This is not to say it can't rain in SanDiego or Texas, but I like my chances compared to Chicago and Cleveland.

Baseball has to be smarter than this or else they put their athletes in jeopardy.

Wait, did I just say baseball has to be smarter?

Who am I kidding?