Friday, May 30, 2008

Why Separation of Church and State? Yet Another Example

News just broke that Barack Obama has resigned from the Trinity United Church of Christ a few days after the video above came out of that church. All I can say is good for him.

I have seen and heard some serious wack jobs speak in my time, but Father Pfleager may take the cake.

I know that religion will be a factor in this election. Yet with the issues existing in the world, and in this country, who the hell cares about what crazy, hate-filled, delusional religious leaders on either side of the political spectrum say.

Religion has made too big an entry into our politics breaking down what Jefferson wrote "a wall of separation between Church and State."

With Obama and McCain I see the zealots having less a role in either of the next administrations.

Thank God for that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hillary RFK Comment

Above is the video of Hillary Clinton's now infamous statement about the assassination of RFK in relation to the nominating process.

I first heard or read about this at the gym which had MSNBC on and instantly I was angry at her thinking it was a typical stupid ass Clinton comment giving further reason that her presence in the race is serving no one but herself.

Then I saw the video and really didn't think that it was so bad. I think her point was that this desire to wrap up nominations is a new found thing.

After stewing on this for a couple days I think the following. The Clinton's are about as subtle as a bean ball to the head. They both have a tendency to misspeak, but also choose their words very strategically.

This comment was not a 'misspeak', but a bush league effort to scare voters and Super Delegates of what could happen.

I really wanted to give Hillary a pass on this statement but I think this is yet another example of her inability to leave this campaign without making people like her even less than they already do.

Here's what she should have said:

"The 1968 Primary was still in question well into June."

This is all she had to say and this controversy would never have sprung up.

Maybe she thinks people will be less likely to support him if they feel he might be assassinated, but if that is a strategy to win, its sucks.

Look at the video and make your own opinion, would be interested to hear it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Know I reviewed a movie yesterday and by no means want to make this site strictly a review of film and TV, but feel that IronMan deserves a shout out.

Saw this film late last week and thought it was outstanding.

Glad that Hollywood now treats the Superhero movie with the belief it needs to be a good movie and not just a collection of expensive special effects. Like any movie you need to have a good cast who is led by a solid director that has a vision and ability to tell a story.

Despite not having read the IronMan comics growing up or being familiar with the story at all this film far exceeded my expectations. The story was interesting and clearly told and the acting was fantastic which shouldn't surprise anyone.

Now here is a fact that surprised me. The four leads in the movie have all been nominated at least once for Academy Awards. They also all have backgrounds in truly independent films. Think that this is another example in the change of times mentioned two paragraphs ago.

Actors like Robert Downey Jr and Terrence Howard are best known for their roles in low budget films like Chaplin and Hustle and Flow. To see them bring their talents to a 'big budget' movie lent credibility before even walking in the theatre. Their performances then helped make the movie a must see.

There were some interesting themes throughout the movie with regards to defense contracting and corporate greed that could be discussed or expanded upon, but won't be here. Why not? Because the film did what it was supposed to,, entertain.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Recount/Memorial Day

For years I have been a sucker for anything from HBO. Some of my favorite all-time TV shows and some of the greatest mini-series that I have enjoyed. Whether it be The Sopranos or Entourage on the TV side or recently John Adams and of course the epic Band of Brothers.

Recently HBO has struggled in my opinion. They have missed the boat on a number of series from the weird Tell Me You Love Me to the utterly bizarre John From Cincinnati. In fact I would argue the station that has become the new source for great original programming is Showtime, who has hit home runs with comedies Weeds and Californication, and dramas Dexter, Brotherhood, and one of my new favorite shows, The Tudors.

This brings me to my political point of the day. A movie review of HBO's Recount based on the 2000 recount in Florida. It indeed was told from the Democratic camp, but overall I felt showed the Republican operation in a fairly positive light. Would strongly recommend this movie to anyone interested in politics as the acting is good and while much of the writing is clearly contrived, think it will make everyone think about how 2000 went down.

Tom Wilkinson who seems to be in everything lately with regards to HBO play former Secretary of State Jim Baker and I think represents him well. Even Democrats I feel have a hard time not respecting Jim Baker for being an American Statesman and for the way he kicked the Dems ass during the recount of 2000. He aggravated us, but think we all wish he was on our side as opposed to against us.

As a side note to my Republican readers and friends. Baker likes the film so much he is having a private viewing party of the film at his home.

The usual suspects take a beating in the film. Katherine Harris (played by Laura Dern) looks and acts like the idiot she was and is. The dialogue of George W. Bush makes him sound like a country bumpkin. Yet the person who got the worst image from the movie was former Secretary of State Warren Christopher who was portrayed as an appeaser whose lack of fight really set the Gore strategy back.

Christopher has gone on record saying his portrayal was wholly inaccurate.

Personally I was reminded of two things while watching the movie. First, how poorly the Democrats spun their side of the argument and allowed Baker and the RNC to win the PR game. 2nd, and more aggravating, how angry and screwed I felt when the election was decided in the courts.

I don't really know if anyone will ever be able to 100% determine that Gore would or would not have won, but if all Democrats watch this movie think they will be more determined and motivated to elect either Obama or Clinton this November.


This Memorial Day, want to take a moment and thank all of the men and women who have ever or are currently serving our country in the armed forces.

This country owes it's freedom and way of life to those that have worn the uniform of our country from the beginning of our Republic to the men and women serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world today.

For those that have given their lives or as President Lincoln called it, "The Last Full Measure of Devotion", to those that have been injured, or any that have ever served you have my total admiration and gratitude.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Liberal Lion

I have been trying to figure out how to best talk about the recent news of Senator Ted Kennedy. Not gonna talk about the medical condition but rather would like to talk about one of the most maligned and criticized politicians in the US.

I have done research, went through videos of his speeches on YouTube, and have looked for the reactions of so many in Washington and around the country

There is no doubt that few out there have been as controversial or politically radioactive as Ted Kennedy. The history and controversies are well known and what happened in Chappaquiddick is a black eye that will rightly never leave Ted Kennedy.

However, despite his personal mistakes Ted Kennedy has been one of the great Senators in the history of our country. He has been a powerful voice advocating for many issues in this country that many care about.

He has fought for wider healthcare access, better education, labor protections, increasing the minimum wage, fought against bills he felt went against the spirit of the Constituion like the Patriot Act, and was a loud voice against the war in Iraq before it was popular to do so.

Kennedy's steadfastness to stand by his beliefs is rare nowadays. Today politicians are watered down and weak, mostly unwilling to 'think big' and try to truly find ways to better the country.

This is a problem that has contaminated both parties in our country.

The big thinkers and big ideas seem to be a thing of the past. Legislation often has to be forged in the middle, yet I contend that great and big ideas come from the extremes of both parties.

Moderates have their place, but they now control far too much.

Let's keep one thing in mind, the founder of this country were big, radical thinkers and their success is pretty amazing.

Nowadays, our Congress is loaded with people who have selfish objectives. They want to bring home porkbarrel spending for their states or districts so that highways and bridges can be named after them. That desire is only trumped by one other train of thought, make decisions to ensure reelection.

When the left wing or what was left of it after 9/11 was attacked for being weak and 'out of touch' many Democrats cowered in the corner, sold out their beliefs, and said to Republicans "please don't hurt me'. (Yes this is an homage to a great speech in the West Wing, the video of which is at the end of this article, WATCH IT!)

A number of these Democratics politicians who sold their souls and beliefs, were defeated for their reelections anyway. Tom Daschle comes to mind, John Kerry voted for the war, as did John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democratic member of Congress who lost their courage.

Ted Kennedy throughout it all held firm and was chastised, mocked, and minimized by many and most in his own party wanted to stay as far away from him as possible.

When his own party lost its vision and backbone, Kennedy was a leader that could be counted on to remain a voice that those who weren't so sold on Cheney/Rove policies could feel was advocating for them.

You can think he is wrong on issues, but aren't we a better and stronger nation when there are multiple ideas and viewpoints out there. Especially those that hold against intense public and political pressure.

A founding father of this country, the Great Ben Franklin once said,

"He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither."

In the past 20 years few have embodied this brilliant and historic quote more than Senator Ted Kennedy who has often taken the road of political danger instead of safety. More importantly, when we started as a nation to trade in our freedoms out of fear after 9/11, Ted Kennedy was leading a lonely fight to preserve our country's principles.

A few weeks ago I was trying to write an article about this great clip from the West Wing and couldn't make it work. Well, today think that this clip is represented by the political courage of Ted Kennedy. A politician who hasn't cared that many have termed the label liberal into a bad word. But as the guy in the clip below says, 'its time for their to be two parties in this country.'

With Ted Kennedy around the left wing of this country has always had a consistent voice.

I'm a liberal and I thank Ted Kennedy for representing me and many of my beliefs. 17people wishes him a healthy recovery to get back and keep fighting for those that need his voice.


Thanks to a loyal reader it was pointed out to me that Senator Kennedy indeed voted for the initial Patriot Act. When 98 Senators voted yes only Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold stood alone an voted against it. The hundredth Senator wasn't present but would have voted for it.

17people apologizes for the error.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Patriotic Gas?

Soon I will have a picture of this image that made me laugh yesterday.

I was filling up my American made SUV (which is my cross to bear) last night with $4.09 gas and looked at the screen on the pump.

Usually on this screen you see one word that says "FUELING".

Not yesterday, instead the marketing whiz's at Royal Dutch Shell decided to push patriotism.

Shell's screen had the following message on it:


My research shows me that Shell had global profits of $27.31 Billion last year, the screen should say, "Thank You America".

I'm not trying to be anti-capitalist, but I can do without being patronized when being screwed me with my pants when it comes to cost. Seriously, when filling up your vehicle with gas,,, is patriotism one of your feelings.

I should have checked to see if I could have bought a flag lapel pin inside the gas station.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hillary/Nader Incident


So the people of West Virginia loooove Hillary Clinton. Yesterday Hillary beat Obama by about 40points in the state forever in our minds thanks to the lyrics of John Denver.

I continue to ask myself the following question? Why are the so called 'bible belt states' so enamored with Hillary Clinton? When I went to school in Kentucky and worked in Rural Virginia on a campaign the most taboo name to be associated with in politics if you were a Democrat was Hillary Clinton. After all, she once insulted women everywhere by saying she 'could have stayed home and baked cookies and had tea.'

In recent elections in these states Democratic candidates have been lumped in with 'liberals like Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.' Yet now, the more working class, rural, and uneducated a state is, the more for Hillary it is.

While she rightly claims these as big victories, I still am skeptical of her ability to build a coalition of independents and Republicans in states that she has won like West Virginia and Tennessee, but what we have learned is that in the Rustbelt or the south, that the woman they love to hate is still the preferable option to the black guy.

Rather sad thing to have to say in 2008.


So last night I was at my version of Mecca,,,, home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field.

As me and my friends were waiting around the Harry Caray statue we were approached by a well meaning guy with a petition.

Him: Will you sign this petition for an independent candidate to be on the ballot?
My Friend: Who's the candidate?
Him: Ralph Nader, will you guys sign?
Me: If there was no Ralph Nader there would be no George Bush, sorry, I can't sign.
My Friend: Sure, I'll sign.
My other friend: I'll sign too.

Now, neither of my friends is overly political, but have to say for a moment I was proud of them for signing the petition and getting involved despite the fact I hope Nader doesn't get on any ballots he needs signatures for.

As I have stated before, I respect Ralph Nader a great deal and think he is a true American hero. He has done more for consumers in this country than probably 90% of Congress over the past 30 years.

His continual runs for President have lessened his credibility to me and more importantly have hurt Democratic chances. While a number of his voters wouldn't vote for anyone else, there are many who would vote for the Democrat.

Nader can claim he didn't cost Al Gore a clear Florida victory, but if he wasn't on the ballot in Florida in 2000 there would have been enough votes to give Gore a clear victory and then the US would never have been stuck with President George W. Bush.

Call me petty, but I won't support or even give a signature for Nader to get on the ballot. This election is too important to have Ralph Nader on battleground state ballots.

Though have to admit, I felt bad for the kid getting signatures. There were many times in my past I had to do this tedious and pointless exercise myself. Why should we force candidates to have their campaigns beg for signatures of people who don't want to give up their personal information?

One last point on my friends who signed the petition. I was proud of them until I realized that they intentionally signed an illegible signature and put down their wrong addresses and contact information.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"These Things Happen in Three's"

So was in a CVS store today to check my blood pressure (117/74) to be exact. Pretty good for a guy with a history of high blood pressure. While there I made a decision to pick up an issue of Golf Digest with an article I was interested in with regards to golf's environmental impact. This decision led to the story of this blog.

As I was waiting in line the cashier at the counter was talking to the lady who was making a purchase in front of me about the tragic Cyclone in Myanmar and the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in China. These two folks were talking about it in a biblical context essentially fretting over a pending Armageddon.

Now when it comes to climate change and our need to change our ways I am an alarmist and will preach to anyone about things we can do to better take care of the earth. Of those ways to be a better steward of the environment the list does not include praying or going to Church. Unless you walk there as oppose to drive.

Hearing these two random people talk about 'Armageddon' threw me for a loop. Not because I am afraid of Armageddon but that there are people who actually do worry about this.

Worrying about one's own death makes some sense I guess, though hate to tell you all, we're all going to die at some point. Worrying about one's own health or that of their family makes perfect sense. Even worrying about someone who lives on the Florida coast during Hurricane season or around the San Andreas fault makes some small amount of logical sense.

To worry about a catastrophic natural event that will end the world? If the end of the world is coming by some, Act of God, there is NOTHING you will be able to do to stop it.

So as I walked up to the register, after far too long a wait, the cashier said...

Her: What about that earthquake in China?
Me: Very sad that....
Her: You know these of things happen in threes, don't you?
Me: Well....
Her: They do, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It all comes from there
Me: Yeah, I've.......
Her: And with all that we've done in Chicago, bet you it happens here next.
Me: What do you want to bet?
Her: Ugh, the magazine is $3.99.

Now hopefully, my smartassness doesn't come back to bite me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Democratic Primary Thoughts

  • Two weeks ago after her victory in Pennsylvania on this blog I wrote, "The Clinton campaign remains in a no-win situation". While I am hardly a political prophet, this year in particular, the trail to the nomination appeared and still appears too steep for Hillary to climb to get back for the nomination.
  • It is easy for many to slam Hillary Clinton for many reasons. Many, including myself have done so recently. While much of the criticism has been well earned Hillary deserves a lot of credit for making a race that appeared over a long time ago into a competitive race.
  • The reality for Hillary is that even with a major endorsement from the Governor of North Carolina she was not able to make North Carolina a close race. Had she made North Carolina close, or won North Carolina outright she would have been able to sell Super delegates and Pundits that she was the candidate with the momentum.
  • Obama survived the nauseating rants of Jeremiah Wright and exceeded expectations last evening. While he has certainly underwhelmed as a candidate in the past couple months he showed some strength and resilience that will be necessary in a campaign against John McCain.
  • The road ahead is certainly bumpy for Obama. Wright will not go away, the slandering and misinformation that he is a Muslim and anti-American will intensify, and the inherent racism that exists in much of this country will be brought even more to the surface.
  • Once the campaign gets going and John McCain is put in the cross hairs of both the media and the Democrats this bump he has received in light of the Clinton/Obama war battle should quickly disintegrate.
  • A McCain-Obama battle would be an interesting match up as the Republicans will try and turn Obama into a Clinton and get past their issues with the fact that many Republicans don't like John McCain.
  • There have been many recent polls that have said Clinton supporters won't vote for Obama and vice versa. Personally I think that this is a load of crap. Emotions are high right now and supporters in primaries are generally very loyal to their candidate right up until,,, they see the guy from the other party that will win if they don't support the other guy in their own party.

Finally, I wrote after Ohio and Texas that Hillary should drop out and do so while on a high note. My thinking was if she dropped out then that she would be viewed in a very positive light by other Dem's and people around the country.

I was wrong then as she has won two major states since then in Pennsylvania and Indiana and tested Obama which will be good for him in the long run.

But once again, would like to see her leave the race with some class and dignity. The only way for her to do that is to leave the race on her own and not force this election to be decided by Super Delegates.

I commend Hillary Clinton on her toughness and never quit approach. But there is no way she wins the nomination now without doing so in a dirty, underhanded way. I hope she leaves the race in the next couple weeks with a wonderful speech that like her Super Tuesday speech or some of her debate performances, remind people why they should like her.

Senator Clinton despite following some shitty Mark Penn advice early, you nearly came back and won this race. Not even for the good of the party, but for your own good, please do the right thing and leave the race with class.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Short, Sweet, To the Point

While Hillary, Barack, and John McCain have hardly mentioned the environment at all and apparently will not make it a major campaign issue, here at 17people we will push the green movement.

Got this video from the "We" Campaign today and love the simplicity of the ad.

Figure out how you can help protect our environment at

Monday, May 5, 2008

PETA Sucks

While I proudly call myself a liberal, one of the problems with this label is certain groups you are instantly associated with. For me the group near the top of this list is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, otherwise known as PETA.

I believe that at its core, PETA stands for a good cause. It is important for animals to have a voice to raise serious issues about cruel treatment upon them. Their efforts to promote vegetarianism are rooted in a good thought. Pushing for pets to be spade or neutered to reduce abandoned animals is a good thing pushed for many years by Bob Barker. Even reducing animal testing for products is a worthwhile cause.

However, their penchant for saber rattling in light of tragedies to animal turns more people off than it alerts them or motivates them for their cause. Recently they were outraged Michael Vick only received two years of jail for his 'dogfighting ring'. The problem is their outrage is usually done in a way that turns themselves into bad guys as much as the people that commit the offenses.

This is because they are unlikeable and have too many members and fringe followers that undermine their credibility.

For those of you that haven't heard, after the Kentucky Derby, Eight Belles, who finished in second place, had to be euthanized because at some point during or after the race she broke both of her front ankles.

How has PETA responded?
  • They are calling for the second place purse to be stripped from the owner.
  • They are calling for the trainer of the horse to be suspended.
  • They are calling for the jockey of the horse to be suspended claiming he knew the horse was hurt before the race was over.
  • Are saying horses shouldn't be whipped during the race.
  • The title of their piece is there article says "Eight Belles" Should Sound the End of Racetrack Betting"

They also say on their website that the jockey, "whipped her mercilessly as she came down the final stretch".

There are legitimate issues in horse racing that need to be addressed. PETA hit on some of the least important ones in order to make their case. Calling for head of a jockey or a trainers is ridiculous.

They say the jockey should have known the horse broke its ankles. How was he supposed to know this? Are jockeys supposed to be the Robert Redford character in The Horse Whisperer?

They want whips taken out of horse racing? Now I'm not an expert but I actually think that this could put horses in danger. The whip is used for many things and sometimes separating from a crowd of horses where injuries can truly take place.

Talked to some smart horse people over the weekend and one thing no one has mentioned is that horses often get hurt when they cross the finish line because changing speeds, slowing down in particular is when a horse is prone to get hurt.

Consider this, a horse going full speed who then tries to stop their 1,000 to 1,500 pound frame quickly as opposed to running out and gradually slowing down. The quick stop puts more considerable more stress and pressure on their legs than when they are in a full sprint which leads to breaks.

So if my information is correct that horses get hurt when they are suddenly pulled back by a jockey then PETA is saying that the jockey should have put Eight Belles in more danger. If jockey Gabriel Saenz had pulled Eight Belles up on the back stretch he would have put her in danger in two ways. 1st, the aforementioned strain that would have been on her legs.

Second, Eight Belles was in 2nd place meaning that 18 horses were in full sprint behind her. So imagine if Eight Belles got run over by a couple of the 18 horses while the jockey tried to save her by pulling her up at the end of the race. The other horses would have been put in danger as well.

So my point, PETA doesn't know what the hell they are talking about.

PETA should focus their attention on real and sensible issues. Their are legitimate and fair points to be made, but thanks to their never ending stupidity and grandstanding their claims will fall on deaf ears.